Lady Bears dominate, win Big 12 regular season title for seventh-straight season

Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

By Jakob Brandenburg | Reporter

The No. 3 Baylor Lady Bears basketball team defeated the Texas Tech Lady Raiders 86-48 during a historic Saturday in the Ferrell Center.

The win clinched Baylor’s seventh-straight Big 12 regular season championship. The win was also the 500th victory of Coach Kim Mulkey’s career. She is the second-fastest Division I coach to reach that milestone, and all of her wins have come as the head coach of Baylor.

Despite her personal achievement, Mulkey focused attention on her players when discussing the program’s success.

“It’s because of these kids,” Mulkey said. “They understand when they come here, this program is about championships and maintaining a level of excellence that is elite. There is an expectation level that some kids can’t handle. And these players come here and they buy into the system, and it’s all about what they do.”

It was also Senior Day for the Lady Bears, as Khadijah Cave, Nina Davis, Alexis Jones and Alexis Prince played their final regular season home game. The seniors were honored with a final walk around the court after the game, as well as with a ceremony at halftime.

Davis led Baylor with 16 points. She was one of five Lady Bears who scored in double figures.

After the game, Davis talked about how the Lady Bears can celebrate the championship while staying focused on their larger goals.

“You just live in the moment,” Davis said. “Today is all about that, but once tomorrow starts it’s another day.”

Cave started the game in place of All-American candidate Jones, who was out with a knee injury.

Baylor opened the scoring after a steal by junior guard Kristy Wallace, who passed it to Davis for a layup. Five quick points from sophomore post Kalani Brown and a pair of 3-pointers from Prince pushed the score to 15-4.

The Lady Bears kept up the rampant scoring pace and made 10 of their last 13 shots to close out the first quarter with a 28-11 lead. Brown led all scorers with nine first-quarter points, and Wallace had five assists. Ten Lady Bears played in the quarter.

After extending the lead to 21 points, the Lady Bears cooled off early in the second quarter and missed six of their first nine shots while Texas Tech went on a 12-2 run.

After a media timeout with 4:24 left in the half, the Lady Bears sunk their next four shots to finish the half with a 10-2 run of their own.

Baylor led 44-25 at halftime. The Lady Bears made 57 percent of their shots, while the Lady Raiders hit 31 percent from the field. Additionally, 32 of Baylor’s points came inside the paint. Brown paced all players with 13 points and made all six of her first half shot attempts.

Baylor began the second half with another 10-2 run, which pushed its lead to what was at that point a game-high 27 points.

With 1:51 left in the third quarter, freshman guard Natalie Chou knocked down a 3-pointer. Following the make, there was a scuffle under the hoop between Baylor sophomore post Beatrice Mompremier and Texas Tech’s Jada Terry. Both players were called for offsetting technical fouls.

The Lady Bears retained a 61-36 lead at the end of the third quarter, despite shooting 5-of-17 from the field in the period.

Early in the fourth quarter, a behind-the-back pass on a fast break from sophomore guard Alyssa Dry to Mompremier brought the crowd to its feet. Dry played 11 minutes, her most in a Big 12 game this year.

Mulkey relied mainly on her bench to close out the game and gave the seniors a curtain call as they left the game.

Mulkey talked about the recognition the seniors received.

“I wanted to put them in that second half one last time,” Mulkey said, “so that they could get a standing ovation when I subbed for them. It was awesome that they could end their career here with a championship.”

The reserves were led by Mompremier, who finished with an 11-point and 11-rebound double-double, and freshman post Lauren Cox, who added 13 points and six rebounds.

Following the game, the Lady Bears were presented with the Big 12 Championship trophy and cut down the Ferrell Center nets as confetti rained down from the rafters.

Davis explained that even though this is nothing new for the Lady Bears, it is still a special moment.

“Each year is different,” Davis said. “There are different players, and that’s the most exciting part. Seeing the freshmen and the confetti, and how Nat’s [Chou] eyes and Lauren’s [Cox] looked like a little kid in a candy store.”

Mulkey was also honored postgame with a tribute video, a custom Rolex watch and Nike shoes for her 500th victory.

The Lady Bears close out the regular season at 7 p.m. on Monday in Norman, Okla., against the No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners.

The Big 12 women’s basketball tournament begins March 3 in Oklahoma City.