Lady Bears aim for 2nd straight titleMarch 20, 2013
Lady Bears aim for 2nd straight title
It's tough to follow up perfection, but through the end of the regular season, Baylor women's basketball had come close.
After a perfect 40-0 record and a national championship a year ago, the 2012-13 Lady Bears headed into the postseason with a 29-1 record and again ranked No. 1 in the country. (The only blemish on the record came in November -- a two-point loss to No. 4-ranked Stanford in which All-American point guard Odyssey Sims played just four minutes before suffering a hamstring injury.)
Head coach Kim Mulkey's squad claimed its third straight conference title in February and became the first Big 12 basketball team (men's or women's) ever to record back-to-back undefeated runs through conference play. In fact, over the past three seasons, the Lady Bears are 51-1 in Big 12 play; overall in that time, the team is 103-4.
Not surprisingly given their success, the Lady Bears averaged a program-record 9,101 fans per game at home, including five crowds of 10,000-plus. Baylor also proved to be quite the draw on the road, as opponents drew more than 3,000 fans per game more than their season average when the Lady Bears came to town.
Part of that draw was undoubtedly the defending national player of the year, senior Brittney Griner. Over the course of the season, Griner became just the eighth woman in NCAA history to score 3,000 career points; at press time, she ranked second in NCAA history, just 270 points shy of the record. She threw down seven dunks this season to push her NCAA women's career record to 14, twice as many as the next closest player. And she became the NCAA's all-time leading shot blocker (men's or women's), having averaged more than 5 blocks a game over her career.
The Lady Bears headed into the Big 12 Tournament in early March with the nation's longest active win streak (26 games) and ranked among the nation's top three in field-goal percentage (first), assists per game (first), assist-to-turnover ratio (first), blocks per game (second), scoring margin (second), field-goal percentage defense (third) and average scoring (third).