Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, who returned to the sidelines for the first time since Dec. 19 on Saturday, said she felt physically okay after experiencing COVID-19. But when asked if she was concerned about the season coming to an end amid a pandemic, she didn’t crush any words.
“The answer is as follows: The season continues. It’s known as the almighty dollar,” said Mulkey after the Lady Bears lost 75-71 to the state of Iowa in Waco, Texas, the longest winning streak for women in Division I had finished basketball in 61 games. “The NCAA must have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the health and well-being of me, the players, or anyone else.
“A conference does that, a conference does that. The CDC says that. Everyone is confused. I am confused. I feel uncomfortable with coaching. I understand, COVID is real. I had it – come and talk to me sometime. But I do don’t know … all the calls and procedures, this will go on and make it unusual and uncomfortable for any program. We are no different at Baylor. “
Mulkey contracted COVID-19 on Christmas Day after contacting a family member who tested positive. She missed Baylor’s last game # 6, January 2nd at the TCU, and after several negative tests, rejoined the team for training on January 4th.
After a positive test that day, the entire Baylor program was suspended on January 5th, the Lady Bears showdown with UConn on January 7th was canceled and the Big 12 games against Kansas State (January 10th) and Kansas (January 10th) were canceled. January) postponed January 13). Baylor, 8-2, was without security guard DiJonai Carrington and striker Caitlin Bickle on Saturday as those players are still in quarantine.
The rest of the Baylor players came off break on Friday and had their first training session in two weeks with Mulkey on game day. She gave the Cyclones the full honor of finishing the Lady Bears streak, saying Baylor could likely beat some opponents with that little preparation, but not the state of Iowa.
“This team has 3 points that expose us – this team has great coaching,” she said. “It was the perfect time for what you saw.”
Saturday was only the second time the Cyclones won at Waco. The first was 1997, the Big 12’s inaugural season. Mulkey praised Cyclones star Ashley Joens (27 points, 12 rebounds) and coach Bill Fennelly, who also defeated Baylor 57-56 last March in Ames, Iowa. In that game, Joens hit the victorious free throw and ended the Lady Bears’ 58-game winning streak in the regular season.
Baylor’s loss on Saturday meant the two longest running streak of victories in women’s basketball ended in the same week. Iowa’s women, who finished second behind Baylor with 42 straight wins, lost in extra time to Ohio on Wednesday.
It was a big win for Iowa State (9-4) against the team that won or shared the last 10 Big 12 regular season titles and holds three NCAA championships. Joens, a junior guard / striker, is the Big 12’s top scorer at 24.6 points per game. That 1997 cyclonic win in Waco came before she was born.
“It feels really good when you can get a win like that,” said Joens. “Everyone did their job, everyone was executed. Knowing that we can compete with these types of teams at the highest level gives us confidence for the rest of the season.”