After a thrilling win over North Carolina State this past weekend, the Iowa women’s basketball team takes on Baylor in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament this evening.
Baylor, historically, is close to juggernaut-status in women’s basketball. Not quite UConn-levels of dominance, but up there. Head coach Kim Mulkey has been in Waco since 2000, racking up a 570-99 record in that time. Under her watch, the Bears have been to five Elite Eights, and two national championships, the most recent one coming in 2012. That team had Britney Griner on it, if you recall. Mulkey also seems... terse with the media. Her and Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder are each finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey hopes her center, Kalani Brown, doesn't have nightmares about Iowa's Megan Gustafson. Brown is going to try staying with the Hawkeye star. The Bears seem annoyed with attention Megan is getting. pic.twitter.com/oXKJAgzkmi— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) March 31, 2019
The last time Baylor was in the Elite Eight was during the 2016-17 season, ending a run of four consecutive trips to the final weekend of the tournament. The last time Iowa was in the Elite Eight was 26 years ago. I’m 27 years old. So yeah.
This year, the Bears are led by senior center Kalani Brown, who’s going to be battling with Megan Gustafson in the post for prime position all night. She’s averaging 15 points and 8 boards a game on 61 percent shooting. Brown had 18 and 10 while shooting 9-20 in Baylor’s 90-68 win over South Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Junior forward Lauren Cox is another potent offensive weapon for the Lady Bears; she’s averaging 13 and 8 on the year, and had 17 points to go with 14 boards against SC. And then there’s sophomore guard DiDi Richards who set a season-record with 25 points against the Gamecocks.
Baylor has just one blemish on their record this year: the Lady Bears are 34-1, owning a 18-0 Big 12 record. The lone loss came at the hands of a Stanford team that’s taking on Notre Dame this evening in the Elite Eight matchup. That loss to the Cardinal came all the way back on Dec. 15. Twenty-six games ago.
Let’s change that tonight.