Baylor wins at least share of sixth-straight Big 12 crown
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Coach Kim Mulkey was proud that Baylor's remarkable string of Big 12 titles will continue for another season.
Nina Davis scored 14 points to help No. 4 Baylor rally from an early deficit and ensure at least a share of their sixth-straight Big 12 Conference regular season crown with a 63-52 win over Kansas State on Saturday night.
''This team lost their very first conference game at Oklahoma State. The string of wins we've put together here – I know I've coached a 40-0 team, but that's just clutch,'' Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. ''That's clutch to lose your first game and be able to win a championship without losing another one.''
The Lady Bears can win the title outright on Monday with a win over second-place No. 8 Texas.
''As a competitor, you want to win every game. But win or lose Monday, we're still going to get a ring and cut those nets down,'' Mulkey said. ''We're never going to take that for granted. But as a competitor, we've got one more game on our schedule.''
Alexis Jones added nine points for Baylor (29-1, 16-1) in the victory over the Wildcats, including a pair of critical 3-pointers in the first half.
Breanna Lewis scored 20 points for Kansas State (18-10, 8-9), which had won consecutive games by double digits.
''We're starting to become more resilient,'' Wildcats coach Jeff Mittie said. ''We've seen that in stretches. I think we're becoming a tougher and more poised team. That's what it took today, so I think I saw progress.''
The start certainly wasn't how the Lady Bears envisioned it. Baylor missed five of its first six shots and had three turnovers in the first two minutes. Kansas State grabbed the momentum with a pair of 3-pointers from Kindred Wesemann and at one point led by double digits. The junior guard and Lewis combined to score 22 of the Wildcats' 27 first-half points.
An 11-2 Lady Bears run spanning the end of the first quarter and start of the second gave the visitors their first lead of the game with 8:05 remaining before halftime. Davis scored four of her six first-half points during the run to lead Baylor to a 30-27 halftime advantage.
The Wildcats cut their deficit to 32-31 early in the second half, but couldn't get any closer. Baylor rattled off another large run to take a double-digit lead into the final period, where the closest the game got was a 55-48 Baylor lead.
''These players let me coach them,'' Mulkey said. ''They let me get on them. I can get in their face, but they know I've got their back. They know all I want is for them to experience a ring – a Final Four. That's what they came to Baylor for.''
Mulkey was asked after the game if Kansas State deserves a berth in the NCAA Tournament:
''I'm a little bit partial as a coach in this league. But yes, we're deserving of having six teams from this conference. I've watched a lot of basketball, so if you're going to take eight or nine teams from some of these other conference that are having really mediocre years, we deserve six.''
Baylor: The latest conference title is the seventh overall for the Lady Bears.. … Alexis Prince scored nine points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Baylor outrebounded Kansas State 25-10 in the second half.
Kansas State: Lewis scored her 1,001-career point midway through the first quarter. … The Wildcats honored three seniors on Saturday: Megan Deines, Brianna Craig and Antoinette Taylor.
Baylor: Hosts No. 8 Texas on Monday.
Kansas State: At No. 22 Oklahoma State on Monday.