Bears bully 'Dogs 84-72Nov. 15, 2005
by JORDAN DANIEL, sports writer
When the Baylor Lady Bears fell 18 points behind Georgia early in the second half on Sunday, no one at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic in Lubbock thought the defending champs were down and out.
Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson and the Lady Bears have made a habit of charging back after their opponents race out to big leads, and Baylor did just that against the Lady Bulldogs, defeating Georgia head Coach Andy Landers' team 84-72 at the United Spirit Arena.
Baylor's starting frontcourt, senior Sophia Young and junior Abiola Wabara, took advantage of their speed, quickness and athleticism to dominate Georgia down low, outscoring Georgia forwards Tasha Humphrey and Megan Darrah, 43-17.
Young took over in the paint in the second half. Her stellar performance led the way for the Lady Bears, dropping 30 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
"She's an extremely difficult matchup for anyone because if you're tall, as in 6-4 or 6-5, she will out quick you, take you out and drive by you," Landers said of Young, the State Farm Wade Trophy candidate.
But large comebacks are starting to become commonplace for the Lady Bears' basketball team. On Nov. 14, 2004, the Lady Bears spotted Louisiana State University a 21-point lead in the Tip-Off Classic before storming back into the contest.
Baylor eventually lost the game by one point, but the flurry of points gave the Lady Bears confidence that they could play with any team in America.
"We competed our butts off, fought and clawed," said Mulkey-Robertson after last season's 71-70 loss. "Steffanie Blackmon had incredible leadership. Am I going to walk around with a smile on my face? No. But most teams couldn't come back and literally win the ballgame."
Five months later, on the biggest stage in Baylor basketball history, the Lady Bears completed one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NCAA Women's Final Four.
Facing the same LSU Tiger team that escaped the Lady Bears in November, Baylor fell behind 15 points early in the first half. Behind a relentless defense and a run-and-gun offense, the Lady Bears bolted past National Player of the Year Seimone Augustus and All-American Temeka Johnson en route to a 68-57 upset.
"We've been in those situations many times," Wabara said. "We didn't panic, we pulled ourselves together and realized that what we needed was defensive stops. We just needed to get our defensive going, stop the ball and wait for our offense to get going."
The defense was the catalyst for Sunday's comeback against Georgia, just as it was against LSU in the Final Four last season. The Lady Bears forced 17 turnovers and held Georgia to a paltry 25 percent shooting performance in the second half.
"Every shot they took in the second half, we were closer to them," Mulkey-Robertson said. "I thought rebounding in the second half for us was much better than the first half."
The Lady Bears return to the hardwood against the University of California-Los Angeles at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ferrell Special Events Center.
Baylor's Big 12 Conference and national championship banners will be unveiled before the game.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.