Lady Bears begin post-season run in Oklahoma City

Sophomore guard Kristy Wallace dribbles into the paint against an Oklahoma State defender during the Lady Bears’ game against the Cowgirls on Feb. 17 at the Ferrell Center. The Lady Bears could face either OSU or Iowa State in the second round of the Big 12 tournament this weekend. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

The Lady Bears are headed to Oklahoma City to take part in the 2016 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship. The tournament begins today and runs through Monday.

After losing their first conference game, the Lady Bears dug deep and found a way to win 17-straight games and take home the Big 12 title. Now they look to continue with the momentum in the Big 12 tournament as the No. 1 seed.

“As a player you say no loss is good, but some can be,” said junior forward Nina Davis. “It can be a wake-up call to let you know that you aren’t as good as you think you are, that you still have a lot of stuff to improve on. I’m glad we had that loss early, rather than late, because it was a good wake-up call for us.”

Sitting behind them at No. 2 is Texas, followed by No. 3 West Virginia, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 6 Kansas State, No. 8 Iowa State, No. 9 Texas Tech and No. 10 Kansas.

The first round will begin on Friday as the 7-10 seeds fight to earn a spot in the quarterfinals. As the No. 1 seed, the Lady Bears will play the winner between No. 8 Iowa State and No. 9 Texas Tech at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Although Baylor both teams decisively during the season, head coach Kim Mulkey knows that they will both bring a strong lineup.Mulkey weighed in on her analysis of both Iowa State and Texas Tech, starting with Iowa State

“With Iowa State, if we should play them, you know are going to see a lot of jump defense,” Mulkey said. “A diamond-and-one and a triangle-and-two, you know you are going to have to defend the three-ball and all positions, with exception to the inside at the five maybe.

“With Texas Tech, you are going to see a mixture of both. You are going to see quickness on the perimeter, you are going to see a little size inside, but more of your traditional offense you would have to defend as opposed to Iowa State.”

Mulkey said the two teams present unique challenges specific to each coach and each set of players.

“Two very different coaching philosophies. I know [head Bill Fennelly]. He’s kind of shorthanded. It messes up your chemistry, it messes up your rotation, but when you shoot that many threes, you are always in the ballgame.”

As the Lady Bears (30-1, 17-1) finished their season undefeated at home, senior guard Niya Johnson knows that it important to take one game at a time.

“It’s like a second season to us,” Johnson said. “Just like we did the first season we have to come in and stay focused. Just learn from the little things that we didn’t do, such as turnovers, and focus on things like that. Just take it one game at a time.”

With a win on Saturday, they Lady Bears would then face the winner of No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Oklahoma at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The goal for the team is to make it to the championship game at 8 p.m. Monday.

“If it ever gets old I need to retire and get out, because that’s what you play for,” Mulkey said. “You play to win ballgames, certainly, and you definitely play to win championships.”