Women's college basketball: Baylor beats Irish to cap perfect 40-0 campaign
Odyssey Sims added 19 points and Destiny Williams had 12 for the Lady Bears, who outrebounded Notre Dame 46-27 and now have the third unbeaten season in women's basketball in the last four years. UConn, which has gone undefeated four times, did it in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. Texas and Tennessee also have unbeaten seasons.
Baylor's victory also gave President Barack Obama some bragging rights. He correctly picked Baylor to beat Notre Dame in the title game.
With 1:04 left and the game well in hand, Mulkey took out Griner and the two shared a long hug. Mulkey was able to crack a bright smile despite battling Bell's palsy.
Mulkey has now won a title as a player (at Louisiana Tech), an Olympic gold medal (in 1984) and two titles as a coach. Only five women's coaches have more than one championship at the top level of NCAA competition.
Mulkey has downplayed the 40 wins, noting that her former coach and mentor at Louisiana Tech Leon Barmore won 40 games in 1980. That was before women's basketball was governed by the NCAA, which didn't begin keeping records until the 1982 season.
It was the second meeting between the teams this season. Baylor also won the first one, by 13 in Waco on Nov. 17. That win gave the Lady Bears the preseason WNIT title.
As usual, Griner put on a show in warmups, thrilling the crowd with a series of impressive dunks — including a one-handed throw down, a double-pump slam and another in which she hung on rim. She has already dunked twice in the tournament, matching Candace Parker for most dunks by a woman in NCAA tournament play and during a college career (seven).
She couldn't catch one against the Irish.
The Lady Bears had a strong cheering section that included Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III — dancing in his seat at the end of the game — and country music star Trace Adkins. He was a freshman walk-on football player at Louisiana Tech in the early 1980s when Mulkey was a senior there.
Notre Dame had its own star fan in former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who earned a graduate degree at the school. The Irish were wearing their green uniforms for the first time since last season's title loss.
It didn't help. But on this night, nothing else could stop Griner, either.
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