By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
The No. 1-seeded Baylor Lady Bears basketball team heads to Oklahoma City to face No. 4-seed Louisville at 8:30 p.m. on Friday in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Lady Bears (32-3) are familiar with the building, having played the Big 12 Tournament there in recent years and having played there in the Sweet 16 in 2013.
Senior forward Nina Davis says the team is focused on the game rather than the location, despite having seen mixed results at that specific arena.
“We’ve shed plenty of tears there, but we’ve also celebrated in confetti there,” senior forward Nina Davis said. “We’re not really worried about the location where we’re playing at. We’re just worried about our next opponent, which is Louisville, and just focused on us and what we have to do to get to the next round.”
Baylor most recently lost in Oklahoma City to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game, but a more devastating defeat came in the 2013 Sweet 16 game to Louisville in which the defending national champion Lady Bears were stunned by No. 5-seeded Cardinals.
Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey says the loss to Louisville four years ago is in the past and that the two teams are completely different now.
“That’s history,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “So now you go to this game, and they’re a different team; we’re a different team. They have great players; we have great players. They’re well-coached; I don’t know if we are or not, but we’ll see.”
The Lady Bears are coming off blowout wins in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, winning 119-30 against No. 16-seed Texas Southern and 86-46 against No. 9-seed California.
Louisville is led by sophomore guard Asia Durr who is averaging 19.2 points per game on the season while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. Junior forward Myisha Hines-Allen anchors the paint for the Cardinals, averaging 13.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game on the year.
The Cardinals defeated No. 13-seed Chattanooga in the first round 82-62 before knocking off No. 5-seed Tennessee 75-64 in the second round.
Mulkey says she is excited that she has so much depth and youth in the post and that it bodes well for her program in the future.
“Our size is young, and I think people tend to forget that,” Mulkey said. “I just think the more they can get NCAA experience, the better they get. And then maybe someday they’ll win them a national championship here.”
The Lady Bears are 41-13 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 7-6 in the Sweet 16, including three straight wins to advance to the Elite Eight.
Should Baylor win, it will face the winner of No. 2-seed Mississippi State and No. 3-seed Washington on Sunday.