Since Baylor director of women’s basketball operations Makenzie Fuller announced her pregnancy on social media Monday, prayers and messages of encouragement have rushed in from all over the country for Makenzie, her husband Clay and Baby Scout. While it was joyous news, especially for Makenzie’s mother, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, it was tempered by the struggles Baby Scout was already facing. She was diagnosed with a pair of life-threatening defects, Turner Syndrome and Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome.
On Thursday as the No. 3 Lady Bears prepared for their first road game of the season at No. 8 UCLA, Mulkey told the team before practice that Fuller had lost the baby.
“Coach Mulkey will not be making the trip with us to UCLA,” associate head coach Bill Brock said Friday morning. “As you know, Makenzie and Clay have had a difficult pregnancy. As any mother should be, (Mulkey) is with Makenzie right now by her side. Clay and Makenzie covet your prayers.”
Brock said when Mulkey made the announcement, the girls took it really hard. They’re a family, he said.
“These young people had a lot thrown at them yesterday,” Brock said. “They may have to deal with this in their families sometime. They’ve seen how Coach Mulkey has always kept them abreast of the situation. Makenzie’s been honest with them. Think about all the stories that have been written across the United States about Makenzie’s child’s situation, about the Turner Syndrome and about the heart condition.
“Think of all the awareness this has brought throughout the country for children who have this. I think Baby Scout has done a tremendous thing of making people aware of these conditions. I have no doubt she will be looking over us and flying to UCLA and back with us.”
Baylor (3-0) will tip off against the Bruins at 3 p.m. Central Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Network. Fans can also tune in to Baylor Sports Network to hear the call.
“I think it’s outstanding that we get to go out there and play at Pauley Pavilion where John Wooden won so many championships.” Brock said. “A lot of these kids have never been to Los Angeles. It’s going to be a very good trip for that purpose. There’s a job to be done. We’re going to go out there and see how far along we are at this time. If you win, that’s great. If you lose it’s not a major impact on your season. It’s going to give us a great measuring stick.”
UCLA is led by Jordin Canada, two-time all-Pac-12 selection and the league’s reigning defensive player of the year. Brock referred to her as one of the premier point guards in the country.
“We have done everything we know how to do to try to simulate her speed, her quickness and her athleticism,” Brock said. “She is a tremendous player.”
Canada, along with her Bruins teammate Monique Billings, who finished last season with 19 double-doubles, join Baylor’s Kalani Brown on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list.
Billings, a 6-foot-4 forward, will go up against Brown and Cox inside.
“When Monique Billings does catch the basketball, you have to make her finish over some size because she is a tremendous jumper,” Brock said. “If we let her shoot layups and get us in foul trouble, it’ll be a long night for us.”
UCLA (2-0) currently has a 31-game win streak at home. The two teams faced off last season in Waco as the Lady Bears won, 84-70. Brown recorded her first-career double-double in the contest with 25 points and 19 rebounds.
When asked if he felt as if the Lady Bears had done enough through their first three contests to be ready for Saturday’s matchup, Brock smiled and said, “We’ll find out.”
“Now you’ve got to start doing things in games that you’ve been telling kids every day in practice that you’ve got to watch for,” Brock added. “You’ve got to be strong with all your passes. You’ve got to be in correct position on defense. You can’t shoot those kinds of shots against quality opponents. That’s exactly what we’re going to find out. We’re going to find out how far along we are.”