Unbeaten Baylor remains hungry for a title
DES MOINES - Baylor coach Kim Mulkey insists the Lady Bears aren’t focused on the pressure that comes with being unbeaten.
They just want to win the national championship like everyone else.
Fourth-seeded Georgia Tech (26-8) gets its shot at taking down the relaxed and mighty Lady Bears (36-0) Saturday in the semifinals of the Des Moines Regional. The winner gets Tennessee or Kansas Monday night.
“I don’t know that we even think about pressure. We just want to win a national championship like everybody else that’s remaining,’’ Mulkey said. “There’s no pressure.’’
Don’t tell that to Georgia Tech, which has the unenviable challenge of trying to slow Brittney Griner while hoping the rest of the Lady Bears don’t run wild.
Everyone knows about the 6-foot-8-inch Griner, who is averaging 23.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, has 184 blocks, and dunked in Tuesday’s 76-57 romp over Florida.
But the Lady Bears also have Odyssey Sims, who Mulkey believes is the nation’s best point guard, along with a strong supporting cast that includes forward Destiny Williams and guard Kimetria Hayden.
Baylor ranks first in the country in field goal percentage, second in assist-to-turnover ratio and scoring margin, and third with 78.8 points per game.
“I don’t know what’s harder; to guard Brittney Griner or bring the ball up the court against Odyssey Sims. To have that type to talent on the floor, it makes our job easier as a coach,’’ Mulkey said.
Though the Yellow Jackets are deep and athletic, they also know that nobody’s stopped Baylor yet for a reason.
“That’s what makes them such a difficult team to beat. I mean, at this point in the season no one’s figured that out exactly yet,’’ Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “They’ve got a great point guard and a great, great center, and then they have role players that have accepted their roles.’’
Though the focus on Saturday’s game will be on the Lady Bears, Georgia Tech’s not too shabby either.
Georgia Tech has already notched the best season in school history, reaching the NCAA Tournament’s regional semifinals for the first time. Joseph said Friday that this is the deepest and most talented team she’s had in nine years on the job - and the Yellow Jackets enter the semifinals on a hot streak.
Georgia Tech has won 13 of its last 15 games, with both losses coming to Maryland, the No. 2 seed in the Raleigh Regional. The Yellow Jackets are led by 6-5 center Sasha Goodlett, who averages 14.6 points a game and will be matched up with Griner on both ends, and explosive sophomore shooting guard Tyaunna Marshall.
Freshman Sydney Wallace has had an incredible NCAA Tournament so far, combining for 51 points in victories over Sacred Heart and Georgetown after averaging just 6 points a game before then.
Last season Baylor was a top seed in the nearby Dallas Regional, but the Lady Bears never made it out of the weekend. Eventual national champion Texas A&M stunned the Bears, 58-46, a loss that’s provided them with plenty of motivation for this season’s run.