Chloe Jackson’s Heroics Lead Baylor to 3rd National Championship
Waco was ablaze Sunday evening when the Lady Bears brought home the 3rdNCAA women’s basketball national championship in school history. The win solidifies head coach Kim Mulkey into the highest echelon of college basketball coaches in the country, men or women.
What ended up as a down-to-the-wire thriller against No.1 seeded Notre Dame began as a certified blowout. The Bears went up on the Irish big in the first half doing what they do best: taking the ball inside. Notre Dame had no answer for post-superstars Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown down low for Baylor, and the Bears cruised into the second half with a cool 43-27 lead.
The second half proved much more difficult for Mulkey’s squad, as the Irish finally began to see some of their shots fall. Led by star guard Arike Ogunbowale, who finished with a game high 31 points, Notre Dame stormed back into the game behind a blistering 50-point second half.
In the last minutes of the third quarter, two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the year Lauren Cox went down with a knee injury. The injury represented a change in momentum that would persist into the fourth quarter.
“It was really hard, because she [Cox] is our leader, she’s the reason why we’re here. But we had to come together as a family,” Baylor guard Chloe Jackson said after the game of her friend and teammate. ““We had to do it for [her].”
With Baylor’s defensive anchor out, Notre Dame began inching their way back into the game. Behind a three-point barrage by Junior guard Marina Mabrey, the Irish tied the game at 74. Both teams traded baskets on either end, knotting the game up at 78 with less than a minute left. Then, the magic began.
In her final collegiate game, Chloe Jackson whips around a screen, catches the ball near the free-throw line, and nails a tough jumper in traffic to put the Lady Bears up by two.
The game was far from over though. Notre Dame’s Jessica Shepard proceeded to draw a shooting foul on Kalani Brown, and subsequently nailed two consecutive free throws. With the game tied up once again, Chloe Jackson decided to go back into her bag of tricks one last time.
After a quick crossover and burst of speed, Jackson maneuvers masterfully into the lane before laying up a smooth finger roll that would seal the game. After missed a missed free throw by Notre Dame on the other end, the victory was confirmed.
The Lady Bears were Champs.
Chloe Jackson and Kalani Brown finished the game with 26 and 20 points, respectively. This championship is the second in eight years for the Bears, who also took it home in their undefeated 2012 title run. It is the 3rdoverall championship for head coach Kim Mulkey, who took the Lady Bears to their first ever basketball crown in 2005.
The win cements Kim Mulkey as a legend. Mulkey is one of the premiere basketball coaches, not only in the game today, but of all time. For reference, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski holds an absurd 76.7% all time winning percentage for his career. Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden’s won an even more unbelievable 80.4% of his career games.
Mulkey, who is still in the prime of her coaching career, currently sits at 85.3%.
That’s the sort of Coach in Waco right now – the kind that you name arenas after and build statues for. The Bears have a legend, and this victory only adds to Mulkey’s amazing legacy.
Congratulations to the Lady Bears!