Undefeated. No. 1 in the country, wire to wire. The first NCAA basketball team (men’s or women’s) ever to win 40 games. And last but not least, national champions. That’s your 2011-12 Baylor Lady Bears.
All season long, this squad showed that it’s more than a one-person team. With the pressure on, however, National Coach of the Year Kim Mulkey turned to Brittney Griner, and she was everything you’d expect from the consensus national player of the year; her 26 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks led the Lady Bears to an 80-61 win over Notre Dame Tuesday night and the program’s second national championship in seven years.
[LINKS: 7 minutes of highlights, interviews and analysis from ESPN || More analysis from ESPN || Photos from the win (here, here and here) || "Baylor's biggest fan," a moving ESPN feature that shows the Lady Bears' heart || A season in photos || Send your message of congratulations to the team]
Once again, a Baylor athletic program has drawn the nation’s eyes to our university (3.8 million viewers tuned in to the Lady Bears’ Final Four victory), and they’ve seen success on the court and standout student-athletes off the court. Baylor football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball combined to win 80 games — more than any other school’s big-three sports have ever tallied in one year — and each program set new program highs for final national ranking (FB 12, MBB 8, WBB 1). With such shared success, it was great to see President Ken Starr joined at the game Tuesday night by Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, head football coach Art Briles and head men’s basketball coach Scott Drew, all cheering on the Lady Bears.
[AVAILABLE: Lady Bears 2011-12 National Champions t-shirts (here, here, here and here), hats and more from the Baylor Bookstore || Order Invincible: The 2011-12 Baylor Lady Bears, a 96-page, full-color book from Baylor Press]
What could make a national championship even better? Mulkey’s squad — now 78-4 in their last 82 games — returns its top six scorers and rebounders next year: Griner, All-Americans Odyssey Sims and Destiny Williams, All-Big 12 guard Kimetria Hayden, Brooklyn Pope and Jordan Madden.
Celebrate the team by welcoming the Lady Bears home to the Ferrell Center Wednesday afternoon. Doors open at 3 p.m., and a ceremony honoring the team will begin at 3:30 p.m. If you can’t make it, video of the event will be streamed live on BaylorBears.com.
Sic ’em, Lady Bears!