Baylor-Kentucky instant classic for women’s game
Baylor’s Kim Mulkey wasn’t sure where to begin.
Kentucky’s Matthew Mitchell figures the crowd waiting to watch
the men’s teams from both schools was at least entertained.
Both coaches agreed on one thing: Their four-overtime classic
that ended as the highest-scoring game in Division I women’s
history grabbed some headlines for their sport.
”Hopefully people see that we have a high level of skill and a
high level of athleticism,” Mitchell said after his fifth-ranked
Wildcats beat No. 9 Baylor 133-130 on Friday night. ”If you
weren’t coaching in it, and watching it, it was a real entertaining
Mulkey is sure the fans agree. She’s just not sure how good the
new hand-check rule is for her game when Odyssey Sims was one of
seven Baylor players to foul out after she scored a career-high 47
”Personally I can’t stand it,” Mulkey said after the teams
combined for 80 fouls – 47 by her team – and 112 free throws.
”Anybody that lets you shoot that many free throws, that’s not
Jennifer O’Neill scored a career-high 43 points, including the
go-ahead basket in the fourth overtime, as the Wildcats (9-0) won
consecutive games against top 10 opponents for the first time.
The previous high for a Division I women’s game was 252 points
in SMU’s 127-125 win over TCU, also in four overtimes, on Jan. 25,
”I don’t feel anything right now,” said O’Neill, who set a
school scoring record. ”I thought it was more overtimes to be
The Bears (7-1) rallied from 12 down in the last 10 minutes of
regulation and had several chances to win even after Sims fouled
out with the Lady Bears down by two with 1:23 left in the first
”I had a lot of faith in my team,” said Sims, who topped her
previous high of 37 points against Oklahoma her freshman year. ”We
did all we could right to the end.”
It almost was the second Division I women’s game to go five
overtimes. A series of missed free throws gave each team a chance
to extend the game throughout the extra periods, including the last
O’Neill’s layup with 1:42 left in the fourth OT finally put
Kentucky ahead for good. She missed the second of two free throws
with a two-point lead with 6 seconds left but teammate Bria Goss
grabbed the rebound.
After Goss gave Baylor one more chance by missing the second of
her two free throws, a desperation 3-pointer by Baylor’s Alexis
Prince, who was playing for the first time this season, rimmed out
at the buzzer.
The end of the more than 3-hour game drew a standing ovation for
both teams from a crowd that grew in size and noise while awaiting
the men’s game that followed between No. 3 Kentucky and No. 20
Baylor at the 80,000-seat home of the Dallas Cowboys and the site
of the men’s Final Four this season.
Sims fouled out on a charging call against O’Neill, who hit one
of two free throws after a technical following the call to put
Kentucky up 101-99.
”I don’t think that they have a meter that could measure my
happiness when (Sims) got out of the game,” said Kentucky coach
Matthew Mitchell, whose team got a congratulatory visit in the
locker room from men’s coach John Calipari before he took the floor
with his team. ”We just couldn’t stop her.”
The Wildcats were coming off a 69-64 victory over No. 7
Louisville, which ousted Brittney Griner and then-No. 1 Baylor in
the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament last season.
Baylor won the only other meeting between the teams, 85-51 last
season in Waco, 100 miles south of the Cowboys’ home field. It was
just the third loss against 81 wins for the Lady Bears since the
2011 NCAA tournament.
Mackenzie Robertson, Mulkey’s daughter, matched her career high
with 23 points but missed an open layup that could have won it in
the final seconds of regulation.
”Our kids never missed a beat,” Mulkey said. ”They never
panicked. They just played.”
Janee Thompson scored 20 points for Kentucky, and DeNesha
Stallworth had 16 points and nine rebounds.
O’Neill, who more than doubled her previous career high of 21
against Marist last December, missed a free throw to open the door
for Imani Wright’s tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of the
Sune Agbuke did the same late in second OT for Baylor moments
after blocking a layup attempt by O’Neill. Down two, Kentucky sent
the game to a third overtime on a layup by Kastine Evans with 3
Thompson tied the third overtime with two free throws with 22
seconds left after the Wildcats missed three layups while down two
points in the final minute.