NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Kim Mulkey walked into the postgame press conference with the expression and demeanor of a coach whose team had just lost by 39 points.
In fact, her team won by 39. Alexis Prince scored 24 points to help No. 2 Baylor roll past No. 19 Oklahoma 103-64 on Monday night. But the victory came just two days after Mulkey unleashed a rant defending her school that has forced her to defend herself.
After Baylor defeated Texas Tech on Saturday, Mulkey complained about the negative coverage and the dip in reputation that have followed the sexual assault scandal involving the school and its football program. She told Baylor fans if people tell them they will never send their daughters to Baylor, they should ”knock them right in the face.”
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Mulkey faced a barrage of criticism in the aftermath and has since apologized in interviews for using violence in her statement, saying she didn’t mean to appear insensitive to the women involved in the cases. A visibly drained, uncomfortable Mulkey chose to avoid answering questions about the situation on Monday, constantly referencing an ESPN article in which she apologized. When asked if she felt the situation was a distraction, she simply replied: ”We played pretty good tonight. We played pretty good. I thought we were very focused.”
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale was among those who spoke out against Mulkey’s comments. She told The Oklahoman she was ”disappointed” in Mulkey and that women have a responsibility to fight for one another.
Mulkey gave no insight on how she felt about criticism by anyone. When asked if she was surprised by all the attention her statements got, she deflected attention to Oklahoma’s Senior Night.
”We’ve got attention out there,” she said. ”That’s the greatest thing of the night, watching their seniors. That’s very emotional.”
There was plenty for Mulkey to be excited about if she had been in the mood. The Lady Bears shot 51.4 percent, including 11 for 19 shooting from 3-point range. Kalani Brown scored 17 points, Kristy Wallace 15 and Natalie Chou and Khadijah Cave 11.
The Sooners had played well in recent weeks, winning six of their previous seven, including a victory over current No. 12 Texas. Ending the regular season with a blowout loss isn’t ideal heading into the Big 12 tournament, but Coale said her team will be fine.
”This team all year has been a team that takes adversity and turns it around and turns it into a growth opportunity,” she said. ”This one won’t be any different. We kept talking in the second half about, `What did we learn? What did we learn? What did we learn that’s going to help us for the next game. How can we better handle this?”
Baylor: The Lady Bears led 44-22 at halftime and shot 50 percent in the first half while the Sooners shot 21.2 percent. Baylor had already clinched the Big 12 regular-season title, and the Lady Bears gained momentum heading into the conference tournament after dominating one of their top rivals to win their fifth straight game.
Oklahoma: The Sooners gained no confidence against a Baylor team that rolled them 92-58 in Waco on Jan. 29. Oklahoma is the No. 3 seed, so the two teams could meet again in the conference title game.
Baylor outscored Oklahoma 25-0 in second-chance points and outrebounded the Sooners 59-23.
Prince, on scoring her 1,000th career point: ”It means a lot to me. I never thought I would be able to get to 1,000 points.”
Baylor: Big 12 women’s tournament on Saturday.
Oklahoma: Big 12 women’s tournament on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.