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April 7, 2019
Baylor-82, Notre Dame-81
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Baylor. We'll start with questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Chloe, can you take us through the play for the winning bucket.
CHLOE JACKSON: It was the same play we ran (Friday) against Oregon. (Coach Kim Mulkey) told me just get to the basket. If the wing helps over, kick it to Juicy. If not, get all the way to the rim. That's what I did.
Q. Kalani, I remember you saying your goal was to get to the Women's Final Four. Now you've done everything by winning the national championship. How does it feel to add that to your rÃ©sumÃ©?
KALANI BROWN: Feels great. Was the last thing on my checklist. Now I checked it off. So I'm happy (smiling).
Q. When Lauren got hurt, talk about what was going through everybody's head. I saw you kind of pull everybody together. What were you thinking in that moment?
CHLOE JACKSON: It was tough when she went down. Obviously that's our leader, one of our leaders, obviously, Kalani. We just had to come together. Our motto is Together to Tampa. We had to stick together. We knew it was going to be tough without her, but we had to do it for her. That's what was going through our head.
Q. With Lauren out of the game, how big was NaLyssa (Smith) and how she played?
KALANI BROWN: NaLyssa got some big baskets. She came in there like she would not be denied. She gave us that spark, for sure because it was, like we said, we don't miss a beat when they sub in.
Q. Chloe, you didn't score in the first half against Oregon. You have your Baylor career high tonight. Where did that come from, for it to happen in the biggest moment in your collegiate career?
CHLOE JACKSON: I just wanted to come out today being more aggressive. I knew they were obviously going to be on our post players, I would have some open looks. Just coming out early, looking for my shot, taking what the defense was giving me.
But really the confidence came from my teammates and my coaches. They gave me the confidence I needed to go in there, be confident, knock down shots.
Q. Kalani, when the foul horn sounded, you went directly to Lauren on the bench. What did you tell her, share in that moment?
KALANI BROWN: I just told her, We did this for you.
When she went down, I can say we got a little rattled. But we had to pull it together, pull it out for her.
The whole time, she was coaching on the sideline. She was still involved. I mean, she came out of that tunnel...
I think that speaks volumes of her character. So I was just like, We did it for you, babe.
Q. Chloe, with 9:26 to go, you pick up your fourth foul. Take me through what that was like with Kim, in your own mind, what followed from that decision?
CHLOE JACKSON: Well, I just looked at Coach Mulkey. She was like, You have four. I was like, Okay, I got you. I'm not going to foul out.
I knew my team needed me. I just had to play good defense and not pick up another one, just stay composed.
Q. DiDi, Notre Dame has been a fourth quarter team. You didn't expect them to just fold the tent and go home.
DIDI RICHARDS: No, we didn't. We knew they was holding something in their bag. We kind of knew they was going to come the way they came in the fourth quarter.
KALANI BROWN: Yeah, they got hot that fourth quarter. With everything going on, it's easy to get rattled and fall apart, but we didn't. We just had to hold it together.
CHLOE JACKSON: We know they don't start the game out very well. We knew eventually they were going to definitely start hitting shots. Yeah, just attacking us. They did just that.
Q. Kalani, can you reflect on closing the circle in this way with Coach Mulkey.
KALANI BROWN: It's definitely going to be hard leaving Baylor. But I left on a good note. I just want to thank Coach Mulkey for choosing me because this is the best thing ever. I don't even know. I don't know, I'm just glad to be a part of this team.
Q. Chloe, on the shirts your parents wore, did you have any input on that?
CHLOE JACKSON: I did not have one input. It was a surprise seeing it. My mom told me during the autograph session they were getting shirts. I'm like, What shirts? Why aren't you guys here? Sure enough, they had my face on them, so...
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll send the student-athletes back to the locker room, and we'll start with questions for Coach Mulkey.
KIM MULKEY: I'm going to give an opening statement tonight. I may never get this chance again (laughter).
I want to thank the NCAA Women's Basketball Committee. They got it right. They got it right on geography, as best they could. Geography is always going to play a part. They most importantly got it right on the S-curve.
The City of Tampa, what great memories my basketball team has just going to Tourney Town, signing autographs. The hotel, we're at the Grand Hyatt, which was way far away, but the Tampa police made me feel like Moses when they were parting the sea. They would stop the traffic and the kids just got a kick out of filming that.
Then lastly, I'm not a hockey fan, I really didn't grow up watching hockey, but I'm going to watch the Lightning because I drank all their water and all their Coke. You guys replenish that coach's locker room, and good luck to them in the Stanley Cup.
Notre Dame, do I even need to tell you how good they are? They're the defending national champions, can score at all positions, play the zone against us. I don't think people thought we could score against the zone. We scored a lot of points.
Just a great game for women's basketball. The worst part of the game was Lauren Cox. We controlled that game from the start till the time she went off the floor. We had to regroup. For us to win probably was a miracle in itself when you lose a player of that caliber, not only the talent she has, but she's our leader, people. She's our leader.
For her to come back out on that bench, help those teammates, tell them things. NaLyssa Smith, having to go out there and guard a senior post player, you knew they were going to expose her on the defensive end. But she never let it rattle her. She came back. Every time she'd give up a basket, she'd make a basket.
That is my opening statement. I'm done.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You gave your eye makeup a workout after the game was over. Talk about where all that emotion came from.
KIM MULKEY: It starts with Lauren Cox. For two years in a row we've had major injury to key players. Kristy Wallace gets hurt and tears her ACL in the last regular season conference game, and it cost us. It cost us an opportunity to get here last year. When she went down and didn't get up, I know my kids, I knew she was seriously injured.
But from the time I left her on that floor to get to that huddle, I needed to regroup. I needed to regroup. I needed to make them understand, We're going to still win this basketball game. It will be a little bit tougher now, but we've got to battle, and we did.
Q. Seemed like a little bit out of sync, particularly on the defensive end, to start the fourth quarter. How big was Chloe to close out like that, the same play basically she ran the other night?
KIM MULKEY: I'm so glad you paid attention. It was the same play. Set a screen for Chloe at the top, Duck your head, you get in there and score it.
She had to go in there with (Brianna) Turner getting ready to alter and potentially block her shot. I told her, Don't get rid of it unless the girl in the corner, who is our shooter, that defender comes over and tries to take a charge or something, then you kick it out.
Chloe never gets rattled. She gave up a lot of threes to Mabrey there, but she never got rattled.
Q. That last possession by them, you probably knew it was going to go Arike (Ogunbowale).
KIM MULKEY: No way did I think that (laughter).
Of course, I did.
Q. She draws the foul. You probably think, We're going to overtime. What was going through your head the last few seconds?
KIM MULKEY: If you remember, they had no timeouts. They go out there, get set, I call a timeout. What did I tell them at that point? I was trying to make a decision, do I leave Moon (Ursin), who hadn't been in the game much, on her with speed, quickness. She's a strong kid, or do I move Juicy (Landrum) on her? That was the first decision I was trying to make.
The second decision I was trying to tell Moon is, Whatever you do, give up a two, but don't give up a three.
Then I told her to be alert to the down screen. I thought they would down screen four, bring her up, maybe try to go for the win.
Moon had three-quartered her pretty good, but she just made one quick move, they threw it quick, she turned and ducked her head, which all great players are trying to draw the foul there.
Q. With Lauren out, you had to regroup, NaLyssa goes out, Chloe, DiDi had four fouls, a lot of your weapons that you use to win games this year were gone. Did you feel like you had to invent a new way for this team to win a game at the end?
KIM MULKEY: Well, yeah. I went with four guards. If you'll remember, I didn't put Queen (Egbo) in the game. When NaLyssa went out and fouled out, I had to make a quick decision then. I just thought, DiDi is 6'1", battle your rear-end off in there at the post, get a rebound for us, go with her at the four. I haven't done that all year.
I thought that she did fine. I put Moon in instead of Queen Egbo.
Q. Specific to the moment 9:26 in the game, Chloe gets her fourth foul. Your thinking and strategy? What do you think she showed WNBA talent evaluators tonight with the kind of game she had?
KIM MULKEY: Well, I trusted her. I trusted her. I trusted DiDi. There is no tomorrow, so why sit them on the bench? If they foul out, they foul out, then I'm ripped to shreds by y'all and we lose the game because we didn't sub. I get all that.
But I have to trust my kids. Our best chance of winning the basketball game when we were losing the momentum at that point with Cox gone was to have those kids on the floor.
The WNBA, I can't answer that. I can't control what people think. I can only tell you she's a national champion. I can tell you she's played that position one year in college. I think she's been so good playing that position for us. She keeps it simple. She doesn't try to juke and jive, go one on one, shoot this, shoot that. She keeps the game simple. She gets the ball to people who need the basketball.
She's a great midrange shooter. All our inbounds tonight, a lot of them were for Chloe. She had some rattle in and out.
Q. To be the champ, you got to beat the champ. No one is going to accuse you of backing into this, are they?
KIM MULKEY: I hope not. A lot of people thought we had the easiest region to get here. When you're the overall No. 1 overall seed, you should have the easiest region. We weren't playing in our backyard. We had to go East Coast time, play in Greensboro. We got home 1:30 in the morning. We had to leave at 5 p.m. the same day.
We're moving on fumes. But it's a great kind of tired. Guys, that wasn't a fluke out there. So don't sit here and write, Baylor lucked up and won on some miraculous shot, they played over their head. If you look at the stats, hell, we shot 60 something percent and 50 something percent in the first half. Cox goes down, we still keep it up there pretty high.
That's against just a very good team that played a lot of zone that I don't think people thought we could attack a zone because we don't shoot enough threes.
Well, the old school won a national championship. Whatever that means, I don't know what 'old school' means, I just know how to win. Do you what your personnel is capable of doing.
Q. We talked yesterday about family. How special was it for you to share this with your family?
KIM MULKEY: I can tell you how special family is. I'm bawling my eyes out. I shake the hands of the Notre Dame staff and players, and I turn around to go talk to Holly Rowe. My phone is put in my face. It's my son FaceTime-ing me with all his Cardinals teammates. He's screaming, they're screaming, I'm screaming at him. Holly is pulling me to go on TV. There's some things that are more important than an interview. He just needed to talk to his mom.
So the tears kept flowing. I was emotional from Cox's injury. That kid, if she didn't get hurt, and she will be back, God works in mysterious ways, would have been the No. 1 probably pick in the draft next year. That kid probably would have been defensive player of the year nationally next year. That's how good she is. And she will be back, I promise you that. It may take her a year. We'll rest her, do whatever.
But you write about that because that kid's going to start winning awards she should have won this year. She got overlooked because she's on a great team and those stats don't just, bam, jump out at you.
Q. 17 games this year that NaLyssa scored in double figures. Another great game tonight. Coming into this year, did you expect that kind of contribution from her? How excited are you to see what she can do going forward?
KIM MULKEY: Without a doubt. Probably should have played her more with Cox and Kalani and put Cox on the perimeter some. But she has ice water in her veins.
NaLyssa thinks she can score on every shot she shoots. What she has really worked on, and we will continue to work with her, is on the defensive end. She's a freshman. You saw them expose her on the screens tonight. She'll get better at that.
I don't know this to be true, but she may be the first kid from San Antonio, I was told, to win a national championship in forever or years or whatever. Check that stat out.
I'm happy for her, her hometown of San Antonio.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
KIM MULKEY: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports