By Krista Pirtle
The No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears could be the first team ever to win 40 games in a single season.
Chasing perfection, however, is a goal that did not make Baylor’s bucket list this season.
Goal No. 1: Win the Big 12 regular season championship. Check.
“It’s hard to go through the kind of schedule we went through and maintain your focus, maintain the excitement for the game, take everyone’s best shot, and still win a basketball game,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “That’s pretty uncommon. We’re pretty appreciative of it. It’s on the backburner now.”
Goal No. 2: Win the Big 12 tournament. Three victories stand between the Lady Bears and yet another goal accomplished.
“Look at the conference regular season champs in the big conferences,” Mulkey said. “The three that have been played thus far have not been the same teams that won the tournament. Which one means more? I think the regular means more because you did it over a consistent period of time, yet the NCAA gives the conference tournament champion an automatic bid and I don’t think that’s right.”
Already, Baylor has faced each conference opponent twice.
“It would be a lot of fun if we could win it again,” junior Destiny Williams said. “They know what to expect from us, and we know what to expect from them so it will be a hard-fought game.”
With a first-round bye, the Lady Bears will begin play in the tournament quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. on Today at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
Baylor will face No. 9 seed Texas Tech, who defeated No. 8 seed Texas Wednesday.
Baylor has blown Texas out both times this season: 77-59 on the road and 80-59 at home. Tech, however, seems to bring its best game to the court when it comes face-to-face with the Lady Bears, losing by as few as eight.
“It’s just going to come down to who executes their offense and plays defense,” junior Brittney Griner said.
Should the Lady Bears win, the semifinal round will bring either No. 4 seed Iowa State or No. 5 seed Kansas State.
Last weekend’s Iowa State game was tied at the half before the Lady Bears quickened the tempo with a full-court press and then won. Against Kansas State this season, Baylor has not kept the contest close at all.
The the Big 12 Championship tournament finals will be at 11 a.m. Friday.
“We’re going to win,” Mulkey said. “We want to add three more to our record. We’re going up there to win another trophy, play hard and hopefully win nine games. We’re ready to go.”