Rising to the top in what might be the most relentlessly physical conference in the country.
Who? The Lady Bears of Baylor.
Where? Waco, Texas, site of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. Okay, Waco, you almost have me convinced to pay a visit. Almost.
When? March 10th, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Why? They won the Big XII conference tournament.
How? Niya Johnson and Odyssey Sims each went for 19 points, and Baylor emerged from a nip-and-tuck second half with a 74-71 win, despite the 24 points of West Virginia’s Bria Holmes.
Surprise? Predicted to finish second in the conference, they ended up tied for first with West Virginia, winning on the Texas tiebreaker.
Record: 29-4 (16-2 Big XII)
Good wins: At West Virginia. This is not the world’s most inspiring non-conference schedule, I’d like you to know.
Bad losses: At Kansas.
Somewhere in the middle: Because that quadruple-OT thriller with Kentucky (the one that came within one in-and-out three of quintuple overtime) needs to be mentioned somewhere.
Who’s running this show? Kim Mulkey, since 2000. A star point guard at Louisiana Tech, back in the day.
Senior guard Odyssey Sims is no secret, averaging 28.7 points and hovering around the top of the NCAA leaderboard in that category. She’s slid over to the shooting guard more this season, though 4.7 APG say that she can still dish the ball. For good or for ill, she defines high-usage player.
Don’t let the big numbers fool you into thinking Baylor’s one-dimensional, though. Freshman forward Nina Davis has come on strong in the Big XII tournament, leading the Lady Bears with 9.1 rebounds and second in scoring with 14.6 points. Sophomore guard Niya Johnson is a capable floor general, boasting an almost 4:1 A/TO to go with her 6.4 assists. Sims needs her teammates to step up- but they have the talent and skill to do it.
For more on Baylor’s tournament run, check out our 2014 Big 12 women’s basketball tournament storystream.