By Cameron Stuart | Reporter
Fans welcomed home the national champion Baylor Lady Bears basketball team with a rally at the Ferrell Center on Monday, where coaches and players were interviewed in front of fans.
The Lady Bears secured their third national championship with an 82-81 win over Notre Dame, becoming the third Division I women’s basketball program to win three national titles. Head coach Kim Mulkey also became just the third coach to win three national titles, and hinted that she knew this team would be special.
“Coaches can try every year to have great team chemistry, they can lead them and guide them,” Mulkey said. “But sometimes you get a group of girls and you sit back and go: ‘They got it, they have it,’ and this bunch have it.”
Mulkey’s team, who saw a 17-point lead evaporate into a tie game in the fourth quarter on Sunday, was dealt a blow when junior forward Lauren Cox left the game with a knee injury. Mulkey, however, was confident in her team nonetheless.
“We controlled that game from the start ’til the time [Cox] got hurt,” Mulkey said. “I would’ve loved to have seen, obviously if Lauren hadn’t got hurt, how much we would’ve won by.”
Senior Kalani Brown, who led the team out of the tunnel with the championship trophy and tallied 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Bears in the championship game, praised the closeness of the team.
“This team is just so unselfish and we all genuinely love each other,” Brown said. “Everyone is pulling for everyone and that’s what it really takes to get to the national championship, coach preached that all season, and we brought it home to you, Baylor nation.”
Chloe Jackson, a graduate transfer who came to Baylor after a four-year career at LSU, had the go-ahead lay up in the final two games of the tournament and garnered the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award. For Jackson, words were hard to come by.
“It’s a feeling you can’t even put into words, it’s just amazing,” Jackson said. “I knew they were already a great team and I was hoping I could be the piece to complete the puzzle and, sure enough, I feel like I was.”
In 2019, the Lady Bears collected their ninth straight Big 12 regular season title and 10th conference tournament championship overall as well as ending the season with a 29-game winning streak.
Baylor previously won national championships in 2005 and 2012 and expect to return their entire roster besides Brown and Jackson for the 2019-20 season.