Lady Bears cross paths again with Louisville
Baylor and Louisville have been here before.
The Lady Bears, the No. 1 seed in the Oklahoma City Region, face fourth-seeded Louisville at 9 p.m. ET on Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
The last time Baylor and the Cardinals met, fifth-seeded Louisville stunned top-seeded Baylor, 82-81, in the Sweet 16 at the same Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Don't think either team has forgotten the result, or how it happened.
"They made, correct me if I'm wrong, if memory serves me right, 16 out of 25 3s," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said following her team's 86-46 win over ninth-seeded California on Monday. "Well, you can win every game if you do that. And for us to have come back and even made it a close game and a shot to win it was miraculous because they couldn't miss."
Louisville coach Jeff Walz remembers it more fondly as the Cardinals went on to earn their second Final Four berth.
"But you can't really look back at the game and take anything from it," Walz said after Louisville defeated Tennessee, 75-64, in the second round on Sunday. "Everybody has pretty much moved on from their team, from our team. It's just going to be a great ballgame."
Baylor will likely have an advantage in the stands as Oklahoma City is a much closer trip from Waco, Texas, than drivers originating in Louisville.
And the Lady Bears (32-3) have built up some momentum of late.
Despite a loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament championship game (also at Chesapeake Energy Arena), Baylor has won nine of 10, including two games in this NCAA Tournament by an average of 64.5 points.
Forward Nina Davis and guard Alexis Prince led the Lady Bears with 16 points apiece in the win over Cal. Baylor got balanced scoring in that game as eight players scored six or more points.
"So now you go to this game, and they're a different team, we're a different team," Mulkey said. "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. But we'll compete. I think we have a size advantage, but really what does that mean at this level? If you can play, you can play."
Louisville (29-7) will rely on guard Asia Durr to continue producing on the offensive end. Durr averages 19.2 points and eclipsed that by scoring 23 in the win over Tennessee.
In the front court, the Cardinals will deploy forwards Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore to battle with Baylor's bigs. Hines-Allen had a double-double versus the Volunteers with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Moore scored 19 and grabbed nine boards.
Although the stakes increase with each round, Louisville's frontcourt players will likely bring the same mentality into this next challenge that brought them here in the first place.
"My mindset was we've come so far, we can't give up now," Moore said after the win over Tennessee. "And I need to do whatever I could to make sure my team pushed through. So not only was it trying to hit big shots, but it was also making sure that when they made mistakes, just let them know it was okay and to keep going."