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March 20, 2016

Kim Mulkey

Niya Johnson

Nina Davis

Alexis Jones

Waco, Texas

Baylor-84, Auburn-52

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Nina, so much of this season has been based on selflessness among all your players. How good did it feel to go out there and be your dominant self and have a 30-point game?
NINA DAVIS: It felt great, but we were still a selfless team today. A lot of credit to my teammates because of their pass assists, because of Niya's assists, because Alexis Jones getting me the ball. We had a lot of fast breaks and we were just sharing the ball and everyone was scoring and that's what makes us so hard to guard.

Q. Alexis, their defense has been really good all year. They're a defensive based team. How important was it for you guys to jump out to the lead, that you did to take them out of their rhythm and their game?
ALEXIS JONES: It was really important. They're really long and we haven't played a team that plays for a full 40 minutes, so it was really important for us to really just take care of the ball and make sure we were making the right passes.

We knew that Nina was going to be open most of the time in that middle, so we did exactly what our game plan was set for.

Q. Nina, just talk about the points in the paint. The big girls did it once again. Kalani Brown, 6 of 8 from the field, talk about the big role they played tonight.
NINA DAVIS: They're growing up. Just to see how much they've grown from the beginning of the year, to see how much confidence Kalani has now, to see Beatrice getting offensive rebounds, getting stick backs and things of that, it's just great to see them.

We're a team that we do have shooters on the perimeter. But we know in order to win the game, we have to pound it on the inside first because you can't live by the three because you'll die by the three. So we know we like to go inside out and we did that tonight.

Q. Niya, this is your last game here at Baylor. How great does it feel to be able to leave a strong imprint in your last game in front of the home crowd cheering for you?
NIYA JOHNSON: It's an amazing feeling. Not only for me, but Kristina and Chardonae as well, as seniors. The fans are so loyal, and they support us 100%, and I will miss them.

Q. Nina, you guys went to Dallas last year and played. How excited are you going back to Dallas for this next round?
NINA DAVIS: We couldn't be more excited. Just to be able to go down the road about an hour away, our fans are going to follow us wherever we go. But the simple fact that we only have to go an hour down the road, we know it's going to be like home court advantage. We're just excited and we're ready to play.

Q. Nina, you were talking about all the fast breaks and everything. There was a stretch in the second quarter where you all had 12 straight points and you had ten of them. You had a pretty nice assist with the no-dribble pass. You had a couple of those. Just talk about that. What's going on when things are going like that for you?
NINA DAVIS: Well, I have two great guards in Niya Johnson and Alexis Jones, so I've been taking some notes at practice and taking some of their passes and taking Alexis Jones' no looks. I wanted to get me one on the highlights. But it's just fun. We're just a team that can get up and down. Everyone can dribble, one through four. You had Kalani that made a good pass. And when we were getting up-and-down the court, that's when we're playing our best ball. We're just such a team that we don't really care who is scoring. That's what makes us so great.

Q. First Nina and then Niya, this is the 8th straight year Baylor has been in the Sweet Sixteen. Coach was saying yesterday the words "Sweet Sixteen" probably even won't be mentioned because that's not the big goal or the big picture. How does this register for you guys going to the Sweet Sixteen? Is that a big deal? Are you focused on the long-term picture?
NINA DAVIS: We'll never say it's not a big deal. Just to be one of the final 16 teams standing, that's a major deal. A lot of teams weren't able to get here. But we've kind of gotten used to that.

Our goal all year was to make it to the Final Four, and we're just taking it one game at a time. But Sweet Sixteen, that's not where we want to be. We want to go farther than that, so we're just going to take it as another game and know that it's going to be another challenge in our way to getting to the Final Four.

NIYA JOHNSON: Nina said the majority of it, but you can't get to the Final Four without going through the Sweet Sixteen. Like she said before, just take it one game at a time and doing what we do best.

Q. Nina, Alexis said a minute ago, it looked like you were going to be open in the middle. At what point did you realize, hey, this is going to be what it's going to be like tonight and we're going to be able to do this?
NINA DAVIS: Probably yesterday at practice. We kind of had a game plan and we focused. We kind of thought our defense and knew that the middle was going to be open. I knew that I had to meet the ball and not turn the ball over, because I knew my teammates were going to be depending on me to help break the press.

Once we got into the game today, exactly what we worked on, it played out exactly how we played it in practice. We just kept attacking and it kept working all night.

Q. Alexis, just talk about how important it was for the starters to get some rest and have the bench come on in and to have plenty of rest for the Sweet Sixteen coming up?
ALEXIS JONES: It's always nice when our bench players get in. They get really excited. When our bench players get in, it shows how hard we've been working because we like that they get in during these kinds of moments. There's a lot of teams out there that their players don't get to get in, because there's been a lot of good games going on in this March Madness.

I mean, we're out here working hard. So it's good that they're getting their playing time.

Q. Niya, you guys didn't seem to have much trouble with their press. Was it just a matter of sharing the ball? How much does it help having somebody like Nina, a bigger player that can handle the ball as well?
NIYA JOHNSON: It starts off with preparation. You know, going from the film we're watching and going on the floor, that's all we did. Attacking their zone, pressing, just limit turnovers overall.

Not only that, like you said before, Nina finding open gaps, knowing when to flash, knowing when to run up the sidelines and things like that. We were able to execute tonight.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Mulkey.

Q. Just talk about what they were saying about the game plan and how well it was and how well it worked out tonight.
COACH MULKEY: Obviously, when you watch Auburn play, the first thing you better do is take care of the ball. We just made sure that we weren't content just to get it up the floor. You want to attack a press.

As a point guard would tell you, eyes light up when people press you if you're any good with the ball in your hands, because you're going to have an assist on the other end of the floor.

I thought spacing was very important with the two guard front and Nina in the middle, who is an undersized post player that really can take you off the dribble. I thought the spacing there was outstanding and they listened. Then make sure you didn't jack the ball up shooting it because you were going to get any open shot you wanted on the perimeter. We are at our best when we have post touches and post finishes.

I just thought we shared the ball and we made sure we didn't come down, meet the press and jack it up. I thought that 13 turnovers with a team like that is why we scored probably the most points anybody has scored against them this year. When you take care of the ball and you get a good shot, you're going to score. I just felt the bench in the first half, when we got the two kids in foul trouble, Dekeiya Cohen hasn't seen that many minutes all year in the first half. I thought she was valuable, very valuable. Kristy Wallace, obviously, and Kalani both are in the rotation and they've seen those minutes. But I thought those three young ladies early in the game, we never missed a beat.

Q. Coach, first half made a huge statement defensively holding them to 27% in the first quarter, and then on top of that 23% in the second quarter. What did you guys do to pretty much shut them down in the first half and then carry on the whole game?
COACH MULKEY: We do what we do. We're a man-to-man team. If you're going to make a shot, you're going to have a hand in your face. And if you blow by somebody, you're going to have another player there waiting for you. That wasn't just the first time we've done that.

I think we're third, maybe tied with Connecticut in field goal percentage defense. So I challenge them to say, okay, we keep talking and everybody keeps talking about Auburn's defense, but when the game's over have them talk about Baylor's defense. I just thought we did today what we've been doing since I've been here, just guard people.

Q. Niya gets the two early fouls and you had to take her out for a little bit, but it didn't seem to throw a whole lot off. What does that show about how much everybody's clicking together even though Niya's not out there?
COACH MULKEY: Well, it's like I said a minute ago, I hate to even use the word bench. They just let me play five at a time. I've got about nine starters and that's the way I view it. Some games they get more minutes than others, but Niya Johnson, that's very unusual for her to get fouls like that. But we're very confident.

I've got Kristy. I've got Jones. I've got a ton of guards that can play. It just spoke volumes to where our team is mentally right now and how focused they are. That's what it takes to win championships is that everybody has to be on the same page and clicking at the right time.

Q. In a press like that, how important is it to have somebody like Nina, the fourth player that can help you? Because you're already using three guards, but having that fourth player that can help you beat the press?
COACH MULKEY: Well, whether she was a dribbler, I guess is what you're talking about. She dribbles the ball very well, that's how I'm going to break a press. I'm going to have my four player there and they're going to look inside and back side, and they've got to make a decision. We just felt like we didn't want to pass it all day back and forth out front. We want to attack the rim.

Prince was down on the baseline, and we just spread the floor to where we weren't going to allow them to trap us. I can't think of many occasions in the game today where they just got a steal from a trap. When you spread the floor and you've got that many people doing what they're supposed to do, you're going to get post touches, first of all.

And I thought Kalani gave us a big-time presence in the paint. Then Nina was able to take from the middle of the court and just take you off the dribble, and they had to make a decision. Do we stay out on Prince or do we come in and stop Nina? It worked.

Q. A big part of the reason why you guys have been so successful this season and so many seasons since you've started coaching here is this home court advantage. You have an amazing fan base here and you're going to be able to carry some of that over when you guys go to Dallas. How important is it to you or does it even factor into how you go into this next game, mentally preparing yourself that you're still in Texas, that you're going to be able to carry over some of the loyal fans you guys have?
COACH MULKEY: First of all, it is a reward for our fans to be able to afford to go to Dallas, and they are very loyal. They're very passionate and they're very proud. Now, I've been to Dallas and lost. I've been to Dallas and we've won. There is no home court advantage when you get to sixteen teams. You've got great coaches, you've got great players, and it's who plays the best that wins.

The fan base, I would be disappointed if Baylor didn't dominate the fan base because they deserve that. But as far as on that floor, at this point it's who plays the best.

Q. I've got to ask you first about Wallace and her performance tonight. Can you talk about that? And then of course, I know tomorrow you'll be watching the game between Florida State and A&M?
COACH MULKEY: You don't know that. I probably honestly will be out in my yard and I'll check in and see who is leading.

Q. I got you.
COACH MULKEY: I've got enough time to spend in the film room. I'm not going to sit there and watch a basketball game tomorrow. It's our off day and I'm going outside.

Q. Can you talk about both of those teams as well, Florida State and A&M?
COACH MULKEY: No, I really can't. I haven't looked at the film on them. I know what you know about the suspension of the players. I know that it was a nine-point game, I think, that A&M just won, and I don't remember what Florida State won by. I know the players and the personnel from the past years. I obviously know A&M's personnel better because a lot of those are Texas kids. I know that Florida State has a young lady that we recruited from a junior college at the post. I know Emiah transferred from Kansas State and was eligible to play immediately at Florida State, and Thomas is on Florida State's team. I couldn't tell you what they do offensively, defensively. We've got plenty enough time for me to do that later.

Q. As we've talked about, I know this team has bigger goals than the Sweet Sixteen. But put in perspective what this program's been able to accomplish, and to be at this point now for you've done it for the 11th time in 13 seasons?
COACH MULKEY: I don't -- when you ask me a question like that, that almost sounds like I'm bragging. I think you need to get the administration to tell you what they think. I was paid 16 years ago to come here and do a job, and the timing in my life got me to Baylor University. What a wonderful ride it has been. It's just a place that takes care of me, puts up with me, allows me to be passionate.

I don't even work for an athletic director that hired me. I'm about on my fifth president, I think, since I've been here, four or five. So they appreciate the product on the floor. They understand that I'm going to represent Baylor in the finest way that I can, but I'm going to fight. I'm a fighter, and I'll never embarrass the university. I'm pretty boring. So maybe one day when I'm in the rocking chair with the grandbabies I can reflect on what we've done.

The main thing is we're still doing it. When we can put a product on the floor that's relevant and that people are proud of, I'm doing my job. Along the way we've had some disappointments and along the way we've had some tremendous happy moments.

You'd have to ask everybody else. I know that I've been here long enough that I've seen the bad times. I mean, the bad, bad, bad times. Everybody wants to talk about all the stuff going on at Baylor right now. That's nothing. That too shall pass. That's a society issue. What I lived through 16 years or whatever many years ago it was with the murder-suicide, and Baylor couldn't win in any sport, and the facilities were awful, and to watch Baylor make a commitment athletically not just to facilities but to coaches, coach's contracts, I'm very, very proud, proud of everybody.

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