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Lady Bears look to break attendance records

Feb. 16, 2001

Athletic department starts 'Fight for the Finish' campaign


Sports Editor

A crowd of 9,523 (5th largest at a home men's game) was on hand to storm the court at the Ferrell Special Events Center as the Baylor men's basketball team upset the No. 5-ranked University of Kansas 85-77 on Monday night.

'That's something that you always see at other schools,' forward Terry Black said.

That is now something that Baylor might be seeing more frequently, as the athletic department is starting a 'Fight for the Finish' campaign. The campaign focuses on supporting the Lady Bears in their final two home games of the season as they pursue a NCAA tournament berth.

The campaign has already achieved one of the goals set by the Big 12 Conference's Million Fan March, in which the Big 12 hopes to become the first women's basketball conference to draw one million fans to regular season games.

Baylor Director of Promotions and Community Relations, Dee Ann Bell, said that the Big 12 set attendance goals for each team in the conference at about 25 percent of last year's totals. The goal for the Lady Bears for the 2001 season was to bring in 29,000 fans, and they have well surpassed that, as they already have had 43,891 spectators this season.

There is no doubt that playing in the friendly confines of the Ferrell Center improves the performance of the men and women's teams. The men are 13-2 (4-2 in conference) at home but only 3-4 (1-4 in conference) on the road. The women are 10-2 (4-2 in conference) in Waco and only 5-4 (2-4 in conference) on the road.

'It [the crowd] gives us extra energy and a much needed boost when we're tired late in the basketball game,' said women's head Coach Kim Mulkey.

Baylor fans' next opportunity to support their Lady Bears will be this Saturday as they play the University of Missouri at 3 p.m in a game that will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

As part of the 'Fight for the Finish' efforts, the first 1,000 fans through the doors will receive gold t-shirts, which were also passed out at Monday's men's basketball game. Fans who already have gold t-shirts are encouraged to sport theirs.

The Lady Bears' last home game of the season will be on Feb. 28 against Kansas State University. That night the athletic department will select one lucky fan as 'Honorary Millionth Fan' and will receive a chance to win a trip to the Big 12 Women's Basketball Tournament and shoot for $100,000.

The lucky fan, along with 11 other fans from the conference, will shoot half court shots to qualify for the trip.

Two other main goals of the 'Fight for the Finish' campaign are for the Lady Bears to break the Baylor women's basketball all-time season attendance record that was set in the 1998-99 season.

Currently the Bears are 10,958 fans short, but have two games remaining. The Lady Bears are averaging 3,658 fans per home game.

Baylor's women's basketball team is also the No. 21-ranked women's basketball team in the nation in attendance, and the campaign has set a goal to break into the top 20.

Bell said that the athletic department 'chose an initiative for women's basketball,' as far as encouraging attendance. However, she added, 'it has a tendency to carry over into other sports.'