Lady Bears face FSU in Sweet 16

Alexis Prince dribbles the ball in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Auburn. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

The No. 1 seeded Baylor Lady Bears take on the No. 5 seeded Florida State Seminoles in a Sweet 16 matchup Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

The Lady Bears (35-1) are coming off of two blowout home wins against No. 16 seed Idaho and No. 9 seed Auburn in the first and second rounds.

The win over Auburn gave Baylor an impressive 38-12 record in the NCAA Tournament, going 11-1 in games at the Ferrell Center.

The Seminoles (25-7) are fresh off of two fairly comfortable wins as well, beating No. 12 seed MTSU by seventeen before upsetting No. 4 seed Texas A&M in the second round, 74-56.

In the win over the Aggies, the Seminoles were led by senior center Adut Bulgak who scored 18 points as a part of a balanced attack that saw four of five starters break double digits in the scoring column.

“I think they’re outstanding,” Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey said. “They’re not as big as we are but they’re certainly as athletic as we are and can score at all positions and rebound the ball well.”

The Lady Bears are the top remaining rebounding team in the tournament averaging 46.1 boards per game, so they will look to their plethora of post players to provide a defensive and offensive edge on the glass.

Florida State is no slouch in the rebounding column either, grabbing a combined 85 rebounds in their first two NCAA Tournament victories.

Baylor’s two main scorers, juniors Alexis Jones and Nina Davis, have been on fire to start the tournament, pouring in 39 points and 48 points, respectively, through two games.

Florida State will have to play to the best of their ability against top-seeded Baylor as the Seminoles only hold a 6-7 record against RPI Top-50 teams this season while the Lady Bears boast a 14-1 record in those games.

“They’ve lost to Connecticut, Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami,” Mulkey said. “The teams that have beaten them are good. The teams that have beaten them are still in the tournament.”

In order for the Lady Bears to pull off the victory they will have to contain the shooting of junior FSU guards Brittany Brown and Leticia Romero as well as the post scoring and rebounding of Bulgak.

This is Baylor’s eighth-straight appearance in the Sweet 16, while Florida State will be making back-to-back appearances for the first time in program history.

Although the Seminoles program has only experienced success under current head coach Sue Semrau, they are experienced in the NCAA Tournament, making the Sweet 16 four times since 2007 and reaching the Elite Eight last season.

The current group of Baylor seniors have yet to make a Final Four, despite compiling a 142-15 record over four years.

“[Elite] Eight is enough for a lot of schools,” Mulkey said. “But we want to get back to a Final Four.”

The winner of this game will face the winner of No. 6 seed DePaul and No. 2 seed Oregon State for a trip to the Final Four.