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March 11, 2019

Kim Mulkey

Chloe Jackson

Lauren Cox

Kalani Brown

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Baylor 67, Iowa State 49

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the Baylor Bears, head coach Kim Mulkey and her three student-athletes, Kalani Brown, Lauren Cox, and Chloe Jackson. Coach, I'm sure you're going to want to make an opening statement.

KIM MULKEY: I think I'm going to pass tonight.

Q. I guess both Kalani and Lauren and Chloe if you want to jump in on this one too, that fourth was complete dominance. Can you talk about what happened there, how you were able to take over the game?
LAUREN COX: I think we locked down on defense. We started getting steals, getting out and running and I think that eventually wore them out.

THE MODERATOR: Anyone else want to comment on that?

KALANI BROWN: She got it.

Q. I know this is part of what you came here for and you've still got another big tournament to play. What's this experience been like to be part of this and win this championship for you?
CHLOE JACKSON: It's a blessing with this team. This is a special team, and it's just surreal. This is what I came here for, like you said, and I wouldn't want to do it with another group of girls.

Q. Kalani, every game is different and this one, I mean, you guys got out to a quick start. They answered and it was kind of back and forth. When that fourth quarter run comes, we asked you yesterday about when you guys get on a run like that, when it's in the fourth quarter and you guys are able to kinda land that knock-out punch, what's that feeling like?
KALANI BROWN: It's a good feeling, because the momentum is with us. We have all the energy and we play with high energy. We play some good basketball and good team ball. You just start having fun with it after that and I think that's what we did in the fourth quarter.

Q. Lauren, was there any frustration setting in or was it more what Iowa State was doing, the way they were controlling y'all a little bit on the defense end.
LAUREN COX: I think we were missing easy shots. We were letting them be physical with us, and I think that got us a little tired. But we pushed through that and our shots eventually started falling. Chloe was hitting from the outside and Lani hit a couple from the outside. So that started to open it up down low.

Q. Chloe, your step-back jumper that you hit in front of the bench with three minutes to go, how nice was that? When you do it right in front of your teammates like that?
KALANI BROWN: Pretty great.

CHLOE JACKSON: Yeah, it was pretty great. But all credit to my teammates. They gave me that confidence that I could knock down a shot and Coach talked about it earlier, pay attention to the shot clock. I knew I had to do something with this.

Q. Kalani, I know you've talked about this a lot, the disappointment, if you will, in the NCAA Tournament and how you didn't really want to think about that or focus on that. You just wanted to focus on this season, but here we are again. How cohesive, how good does this team feel going into the NCAA Tournament as a number one seed?
KALANI BROWN: We set goals in the beginning of the season. This was pretty much the final little mini goal before we make our run for the NCAA Tournament. So I think that's the only thing we haven't checked off our list is the Final Four, and if anything, winning tonight should make our team more focused.

Q. Chloe, you struggled at times against Alexa Middleton. Talk about Moon and maybe DiDi switched to her in the fourth quarter and she didn't score. Talk about their defense?
CHLOE JACKSON: They're amazing defenders. That's all I can say. They're great. They do a great job!

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, congratulations and best of luck. Questions for Coach?

Q. Can you talk about the job that DiDi Richards did on Bridget Carleton tonight?
KIM MULKEY: I thought DiDi did what she has done all year. DiDi is our defense stopper on the perimeter. When she got a little fatigued, we could move other people. When she wasn't looking for her shot on the offensive end, as I told her, you can't be an offensive liability or I can't play you. She started cutting to the basket. She was just standing there. She works hard. She has the body and the conditioning and the length to make it difficult. She didn't bite on the fakes all night. She stayed on the floor. You know, how many times do you play Iowa State and the majority of their game are post-up moves by the perimeter players or drives? When you describe an Iowa State team the first thing you say is you must defend the three. They only made three threes tonight. So their game plan obviously was a little bit different. Why was it different? I have to give credit to our kids and their effort on the defense end of the floor. We change people's approach to the basketball game because of our defense, whether that's Cox and Kalani's presence in the paint, whether it's DiDi Richards is not going to give up as many threes as you're used to taking. But I've never played an Iowa State team that drove with their guards like that. I love that kid's energy. You gotta talk about Moon Ursin tonight. She was so valuable on the defense end as well.

Q. Coach, how does a game like this, a tough, hard-fought game help you guys going forward as you enter the NCAA Tournament?
KIM MULKEY: We've had a bunch of 'em, Nick. It's good. It's good. We've had a bunch of those. Look at the last of our schedule this year. Three of the last four games were teams that were vying or fighting for second place in the league, so it of wasn't like the hard part of our schedule was played early. I think that will only help us down the stretch.

Q. NaLyssa Smith seemed to get in that game just when you guys needed her and be a spark on the offensive of side of the ball. Talk about her and what she did in this game?
KIM MULKEY: It's not just tonight. NaLyssa Smith started the season. We don't win against Arizona State and Connecticut without NaLyssa Smith. When you head into conference she is not the forgotten one anymore. Everybody knows everybody's strengths and weaknesses.

So that freshman came out in her in that she is going, wow this is a lot tougher in conference, man. I can't turn. I can't do that and I just kept telling her, stay with it, stay with it, stay with it. I thought NaLyssa Smith in the last part of the season is going back to being a big-time player and an offensive threat for us. She just, I don't want to say hit a wall, but she hit that freshmen frustration thinking this is supposed to be easier than this is right now. There is nothing I can tell her. There is nothing her parents can tell her. She has to live it and it's good to see her this time of year because we need that kid and that's what I told her coming off the floor. It's good to see you're back.

Q. Going back to Moon, what can you say about her transformation this year alone? Especially in the last three days for these games. What can you say about that?
KIM MULKEY: It's not just the last three days. It's all season. I'll tell a quick story. Moon is from the state I grew up in, my home state and I watched a kid with a tremendous body in high school and I watched a kid with tremendous speed and quickness and vertical leap and I just thought her best basketball is ahead of her. When her mom dropped her off at the dorm at Baylor I put had my arm around her neck and said she is going to call home homesick many days. She is going to think she is the worst player ever. You just keep telling her, stay in there and hang, hang, hang. It was just a matter of time. The kid has a beautiful mid-range jumper. She has speed and quickness. Confidence would be a good word to use. When you're a freshman you think you're the worst player ever and when you hit that point, usually about your sophomore year you realize, wow, I'm pretty darn good. Moon has just really done what I had hoped she would do. She is a crowd favorite. She goes in the game because she plays so hard, but she is really a crowd favorite because of her presence.

She is a happy kid. She speaks well. No matter how down she is, you want to be around her.

Q. Kim, it's 48-44 going into the fourth quarter and Iowa State is making y'all work down low and you guys immediately go into Kalani, go into Lauren. They score. Do you have the utmost confidence that they're going to continue to get it done even when it is a grind?
KIM MULKEY: Well, for me it started at halftime. If you look at their shooting at half I challenged both of them. I said to both of them, you're a combined and I forget what it was, it wasn't very good. I said if you're as good as people say you are, then you will work your way through it. And they did. They got fatigued. Everybody gets fatigued this time of year and I gave 'em rest and that's when NaLyssa Smith went in and helped us maintain what we had at that point. Those kids are experienced players.

They've seen it all. You go with the kids that are experienced, but what you saw is you finally saw Kalani find the second gear when she was fatigued and run the floor. You gotta push no matter how tired you get you gotta push. I thought her running the floor late, I thought we get to 50-50 balls better in that fourth quarter than we did in the first half, 50-50 balls, steals, balls loose, active, and we were very poor in the first half.

Credit Iowa State. Chloe didn't pay attention to the shot clock a lot of times and that's not Chloe. So I addressed that at halftime. That was really the difference. I just thought we had more energy in the fourth quarter.

Q. Kim, you usually don't reflect during a season. You usually wait. But you your comment out there, does it hit you when this program has done during your time, 13 times in this game in 19 years and I can rattle off the numbers. But does it hit you what this program has done?
KIM MULKEY: Actually it did today. I don't know why. I don't know somebody just talking to me before the game and just said, Coach, do you realize y'all have played in 13 of these championship games; and I said, no, I didn't know that. I've only been at Baylor 19 years. I said, I didn't know that. And that person said you've won 10 of 'em if you win today.

I kinda knew that because somebody said a total of 20 championships in 19 years if you count the regular season. I knew more of that than I did that we've played in 13 of 'em. That's pretty remarkable.

I can't say enough about the Baylor fans today. They were loud and proud. They were here. Gotta keep doing it. Gotta keep feedin' that monster. I think Michelle brought it up, the disappointment we've had in the NCAA Tournament. See I don't view that that way. Last year Kristy Wallace gets hurt. Did anybody expect us to go to the Final Four without your quarterback? Think about that. We got it to a Sweet 16 and that's a disappointment. I don't view it that way. That's why I cried when she tore her knee up against West Virginia in that game. I'm a realist. Too many things can happen that affect a basketball game. We have been very fortunate to stay way from injury and we have been very fortunate that I've got a deep, deep bench and those kids never pout on you. Those kids are a joy to be around. They pull for each other and that's a rarity in today's society. That is a rarity as a coach that you don't have one in that locker room that's pouting. They all want to play. Look, I want 'em to want to play. But they understand their time and their role and we'll see what we can do.

But I can tell you this: The public might say it's a disappointment and a failure and I didn't feed the monster if we don't get to the Final Four, so be it. We're still relevant and we'll fight till the last second ticks off that clock because I know how hard it is. And a lot of things have to go right. A lot of teams get on a roll. We're pretty good. We'll see what happens.

Q. Coach, how much of a luxury is it to be able to beat a top-20 team by 18 points, not even make a 3-pointer, only attempt three of them. The luxury of having a team that can play that style of ball in this day and age to be able to do that?
KIM MULKEY: Well, how smart would I be if we shot threes with a 6'5" and 6'7" post out there. You know what? Those two kids can shoot the three ball. Those two kids can shoot the three ball as good as anybody I have. I think our record speaks for itself.

You know, it's just going to be interesting to see when Cox and Kalani leave how they're used at the next level because I know what strengths and weaknesses they have; but, boy, they sure have won a lot of basketball games. Kalani Brown is 70-2 in the Big 12. Check it out. I believe she is 70-2 if you don't count this tournament in regular season games.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations on a great season. Best of luck in the Final Four.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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