Kim Mulkey can count on one hand the number of Naismith Hall of Fame coaches that she’s gone against with her Baylor Lady Bears inside the Ferrell Center. On Sunday, Hall of Farmer Tara VanDerveer comes to Waco with No. 16 Stanford. The Cardinal head coach was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
“She’s coached for over 30 years, has two national championships,” Mulkey said. “I’m certainly not going to outcoach her. Our kids are going to have to outplay their kids. They’re always well-coached. They’re big at every position. Tara just knows how to coach, and I appreciate that she came here to play us.”
This is the second-straight contest for the Lady Bears against a top-25 foe. No. 9 Baylor topped No. 20 Kentucky, 90-63, on Thursday behind a balanced offensive attack with six different players in double figures.
The Lady Bears lead the nation in field goal percentage (55.2) and are second in the country in assists per game with 24.
“This team this year, it’s an interesting team because we’re not shooting more free throws than our opponents a lot of times, and we’re not shooting a ton more field goal attempts,” Mulkey said. “But you’re winning by 20-30, so I’m kind of struggling with how is this happening. It’s different for me. Outrebounding people on average by almost 20, but tonight we only outrebound them by six but we win by 30. A lot of that has to do with our field goal percentage offensively. We’re not missing a lot of shots, but it’s different for me.”
Baylor’s offense will go up against a Stanford defense that’s ranked No. 30 in the nation in field goal percentage defense (34.3).
Stanford, at 5-3 on the year, is the only program to have played three games against teams in the Top 10. The Cardinal is 0-3 in those games — No. 5 Ohio State (85-64), No. 1 Connecticut (78-53) and No. 9 Ohio State (94-82 in OT).
Stanford returns a pair of starters and 10 letterwinners from last season’s Final Four team. The Cardinal’s leading scorer, Brittany McPhee, has missed the past four games with a foot injury. Besides McPhee, Stanford has two other players averaging double-digit points — Alanna Smith with 15.6 and DiJonai Carrington with 12.8 Both players average more than eight rebounds per game. That number is expected from Smith, a 6-foot-4 forward. But Carrington is a 5-foot-11 guard. Boxing out on the perimeter is a must for the Lady Bears as Stanford has outrebounded seven of its eight opponents.
While Baylor, once again, own the size advantage inside, the Lady Bear guards will be faced with the task of defending a Cardinal team coming off a win over San Francisco in which Stanford made 11 second half 3-pointers for a total of 15 makes from deep on the game. That total tied for the third-most in Stanford history and its highest since making 15 against Missouri State on Nov. 27, 2015.
“I’m definitely excited to play against Stanford,” Kristy Wallace said. “They’re a very good program, well-coached. It’s exciting to play them on our own turf. To have a good home crowd would be awesome and a great atmosphere to be around and play. For my senior year, I’m really looking forward to it.’
Baylor leads Stanford, 3-2, in the all-time series. The Lady Bears are 2-2 against the Cardinal under Mulkey. Stanford won the most recent contest in Honolulu, Hawaii, 71-69, on Nov. 16, 2012.
As part of the 12th annual Care Bear Drive, fans are encouraged to bring new stuffed animal bears to participate in the Teddy Bear Toss at halftime. Bears will be hand delivered by Baylor student-athletes and representatives from Whataburger to McLane Children’s Hospital patients on Dec. 14