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April 5, 2019

Kim Mulkey

Didi Richards

Chloe Jackson

Kalani Brown

Lauren Cox

Tampa, Florida

Baylor-72, Oregon-67

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Baylor. We'll take an opening statement from Coach Mulkey.

KIM MULKEY: I don't have one. Let's do this.

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for the student-athletes.

Q. DiDi, then work your way down [ the panel], did Oregon come as advertised?
DIDI RICHARDS: They did come as advertised. I think they're a real hard team to guard. We stuck to our defense and came out with the win.

LAUREN COX: Like DiDi said, they're tough. They're always moving, always setting screens, driving, kicking it out, hitting threes. Like she said, we stuck to our defensive principles and pulled it out.

KALANI BROWN: Like Lauren said, it was pretty hard. You had to keep your head on a swivel. Towards the second half, I thought we had a better defensive quarter.

CHLOE JACKSON: Absolutely. They were a great team. Can shoot lights out. We just had to do our best. We were contesting. I think we got better at that throughout the game.

Q. Kalani, you hadn't been in close games in a while. People might have wondered how y'all were going to react. Did you wonder how you were going to react?
KALANI BROWN: Definitely. I think LC [Lauren Cox] said something like that at halftime. We haven't had this in a while. We were like yeah.

We just stuck to it. We've been in situations, so we just kind of, I don't know, looked back on those other games. We've been challenged before.

Q. Lauren, you fell behind 64-61, then after that you had five straight defensive stops. Before you got the stops, you got a big bucket. Was that a play call? Describe the process of that one.
LAUREN COX: To be honest with you, I don't even remember the play. But we just get it to whoever can score. I mean, I don't even know what we were running. Just play ball.

Q. Lauren and DiDi, they missed 12 of their last 13 shots. What changed or did anything change down the stretch for you guys?
LAUREN COX: I mean, we might have just worn them out. We like to run. When you got to run back on defense, stop us in transition, your legs get tired, shots that usually fall might not fall.

DIDI RICHARDS: Yeah, I agree with Lauren. I felt like they hadn't really played a team that runs like us. I think we definitely tired them out for the first couple minutes of the third.

Q. Kalani, senior year, Final Four, now you're about to play for a national championship. Describe that feeling.
KALANI BROWN: The feeling is unreal. I'm still in shock. I'm overwhelmed. I'm just happy to be a part of this team right now.

Q. Chloe, you struggled offensively, didn't get your first basket till late in the third. You rebounded well, dished out well. For you when you're going through a stretch like that, did you think about it at all? How did you get through that?
CHLOE JACKSON: My coaches and teammates just kept telling me to shoot it, it's going to fall eventually. My teammates just did a great job scoring, picking me up basically. It was just my coaches, my teammates, kept telling me to shoot it, don't lose confidence.

Q. Kalani, two-point game, final minute, they have the ball. You get a defensive rebound. Lauren goes to the line to make two free throws. Talk about the defensive rebound, how big it was. Did it feel big in the moment?
KALANI BROWN: Definitely. I know we had to rebound it and get the ball in our hands. Coach was definitely emphasizing rebounding. I don't think I did a very good job of that in the first half. Just to get that rebound made me feel better about myself.

Q. Lauren, no matter who you play tomorrow night, you're going to play a team who has played in this game before recently, you guys obviously haven't had that experience. Do you think that's going to make a difference on Sunday night?
LAUREN COX: We've played in big games, too. We've won Big 12 championships, nine straight years. We've played in big games. Obviously we haven't been to a Final Four in a while, but we're used to the pressure, used to that big game moment.

Q. Sometimes when you are knocking teams off with a comfortable margin. Today did you have more fun in this one because it required you to lock all the way in till the very end?
LAUREN COX: I mean, it's always fun playing with this team. We get along so well. We are always for each other. We don't have any selfish player. Whether we're winning by 30 or it's a close game like this, we're always cheering each other on and having fun.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. We'll continue with questions for Coach Mulkey.

Q. You got outscored 36 to zero from the three-point line and won. Has that ever happened before?
KIM MULKEY: I don't know. We don't play that style of ball.

Q. This was an example of old school pounding-it-inside basketball, wasn't it?
KIM MULKEY: I think that style that they play is very good for their personnel. They don't have 6'7" and 6'5" in the paint. I cannot imagine if they did that they would be shooting that many threes.

You change and you run offenses based on what your kids are capable of doing. I've been very blessed at Baylor to have the grinders and the Destiny Williams, the list goes on. I think that's why we get post players, is because people whose daughters are big, they don't want to sit there and rebound and kick a ball out to three-point shooters all night, set screens for three-point shooters all night. I think with the post players, they involve our perimeter players. We don't have to shoot a lot of threes.

DiDi will cut off our post being double-teamed. Juicy can shoot the three. I have a couple of three-point shooters on that bench. Their day's coming, that freshmen class ranked so high.

I just believe the sign of a good coach is you got to figure out what your personnel is capable of doing. That's what we're going to do.

Q. Your team got five really critical defensive stops in a row in the fourth quarter. I believe Juicy was on Sabrina that entire time. Describe what you saw during that time.
KIM MULKEY: Well, I'm glad you brought Juicy up. I was riding Juicy pretty hard. She had some terrible turnovers, trying to thread the needle on things. I just needed to keep challenging her.

Juicy responded. She got two or three big defensive rebounds. She had to get up and get them on the other end. When DiDi got in foul trouble, I had to make a decision there. I actually brought her back with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter. That's probably not smart, had she fouled out. But, hey, you're playing in the Final Four. There is no tomorrow.

What we did is we left Juicy on Sabrina and let DiDi go get somebody else. It moved Cox over to Boley some. Cox, she's so good at helping, Cox would get down in there and help too much, they'd reverse it, Boley would get a three.

I had to put somebody on her. I didn't want DiDi to guard her with four fouls that early in the fourth quarter.

Q. On the scoop layup by Chloe, was that a read, a call?
KIM MULKEY: We tried to call a couple sets, but they sag so much, so she couldn't turn the corner there. I'm trying to think what we did call because I think we did. Oh, yes, it was. It's what we call five game. We hadn't run it the whole game. You guys that have followed us all year, you've seen it.

Bring Cox up for the single screen, put the shooter in the corner. If they switched, Chloe take her. If they help, then kick it back to Cox at the top. They kind of got confused, she just went in there and got a layup.

Q. Did you learn anything about your team tonight that you didn't already know?

Q. Did you wonder how they were going to do in a tight game?
KIM MULKEY: I think y'all wondered. I didn't. They all say, they hadn't had any tight games.

Listen, I'm telling you, our practices are hard. That group that's sitting over there, NaLyssa Smith, Queen Egbo, every one of those freshmen, they give that group, they beat them sometimes in practice. Now, they're not running the same offenses, that old school stuff you're talking about. When I've got Queen Egbo and NaLyssa in the game together, we don't do that stuff. When we're scrimmaging, they're running this, these bigs have to guard it.

Our practices prepare us for this moment. Our Dream Team, our Baylor guys that have to get eligible through clearinghouse, half of them are up in the stands. Those kids prepare us for this moment.

Q. Talk about the intensity you saw from Kalani in the second half. Seemed like something we haven't seen in a while.
KIM MULKEY: She finally started going to the offensive boards. Hey, I'm 6'7", I'm coming in here, you're going to have to stop me. I tell Kalani all the time, if she ever could just get mean for 40 minutes, she could be dangerous. She's a gentle giant. A gentle soul, a sweet kid, she's pleasant. Like Cox, they want to look to pass the ball. I want them to demand the ball, dominate it and then pass. That's not their personality.

I have to be real careful how much I challenge them because you want them to be unselfish, but at the same time you probably saw it tonight, there was a time Kalani was down deep and turned and go score the ball.

But she did. She exerted herself there in the second half.

Q. When you face Oregon, obviously containing Sabrina is a big part of things. What was the key to keeping her in check at the end of the game?
KIM MULKEY: Well, DiDi Richards and Juicy Landrum, just man-to-man defense, getting over screens, not getting hung up. Then the post player who was setting the screen, whether it was Cox or Kalani, guarding that post player. You'll be very willing to help if she wants to drive.

I just think DiDi has length. She's 6'1" out there. She's bugging you, stripping you. She's just active. Listen, I hadn't even had time to look at what Sabrina did. All I know is they're just hard to guard. She had 18, 6 and 4. I mean, to me that's a good job.

I thought Erin Boley hurt us. I thought she really hit some shots. They would set some flair screens for her, and we would be ball watching. She had scored them on Juicy early, then on Cox late. That's a very good basketball team. They're very difficult to defend.

I thought if we held them below 39.9 is what we want to hold people to from the field. I looked, for the game, I think they shot 36.8. You're going to win a lot of basketball games if you do that.

Q. On the moment when they went up 64-61, you called a timeout, what was the message there? How big was Lauren's basket?
KIM MULKEY: It was very big. I'd like to tell you that I came over there, man, I drew up the perfect play, said the magical words. Heat of the moment.

You know what I remember about that timeout? Kalani Brown opening her mouth and saying, Juicy, we got this, we are all right. We got six something minutes to be played. That's all that needed to be said. She's a senior. There was nothing to draw up. There were no magical words to say. Go play.

I thought late in the game, we got the ball in the hands of the people that needed to take the shots. There was one that DiDi took. You want DiDi to have that confidence. But DiDi is not the offensive threat that the rest of them are. But I love that she had the confidence and wasn't afraid to take it. That probably came from the fact she scored early for us, she was hitting her free throws, been on an unbelievable run here in the tournament, she scores double figures tonight.

That's the only one late in the game where I might have said, Get the ball in the hands of Cox or Kalani.

Q. You said it all year, winning is tough, getting to the Final Four is even tougher. Now you're on the brink of a third national championship for Baylor. What is that like? What did you tell the girls after the game?
KIM MULKEY: Just asked them why they came to Baylor. All of them screamed, To play for championships. Well, you're getting to play for a championship. We've won 20 Big 12 championships in my tenure there, two national championships. Those kids in that locker room get to play for a championship.

It's not just those kids in the locker room, really it's all those other kids that are sitting in the stands that played for this program, that are playing for that championship, as well. 'Perseverance' was a big word. We persevered. We're playing Sunday. Y'all be here. I know you will.

Q. Does it even matter who shows up in a colored jersey Sunday?
KIM MULKEY: No, but I bet it's going to be somebody that has blue in their uniform.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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