Kristy Wallace is the epitome of tough. The senior point guard never backs down from the big shot, runs the offense on one end while being tasked with stopping the best opponent perimeter player on the other end and is the first to dive on the hardwood or into the crowd for a loose ball.
In the Saturday matinee against Kansas, Wallace once again did it all, even with a nose bleed plug for a little bit of it to stop the bleeding. Her play on both ends of the court were met with standing ovations from the Lady Bear faithful as No. 3 Baylor moved one win closer to clinching its eighth-straight Big 12 regular season championship with an 88-51 victory over Kansas inside the Ferrell Center.
“Use every adjective you can imagine,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Senior, thank God for seniors. Competitor, tough, just an inspiring kid to watch play basketball. She makes you play harder when you’re on the floor with her. I guess the only thing that took her out of the ballgame was the trainer needed to put something up her nose. Then she went back in and played with it in her nose.”
Midway through the second quarter, Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown were on the bench with two fouls, and Kansas was starting to catch up. The Jayhawks were on a 7-0 run and had cut the Baylor 13-point lead down to six. The Lady Bears hadn’t scored in more than two minutes. When Baylor needed an answer the most, as its previous attempts went halfway in the hoop before popping back out, it was Kristy Wallace who answered the call.
The senior point guard, who had 10 points after the first quarter, Wallace stepped behind the 3-point line and caught a pass from Juicy Landrum. Swish. That bucket put the Lady Bears back up by nine, and Kansas never got any closer than eight points away from the home team the rest of the game.
Wallace had struggled with her perimeter shot for nearly two weeks. She went 0-4 against Oklahoma, 0-3 against TCU and 0-2 at Oklahoma State.
“I think it’s just a mental game with shooting,” Wallace said. “If you have missed in a few of your past games, it’s just a mental thing and you keep shooting the ball. If you’re open, shoot it, and my teammates were able to find me. Kalani was getting double-teamed, triple-teamed, and Lauren down there, they were able to find me on the skip pass.”
But against the Kansas zone, a good dose of 3-pointers was just what Baylor needed. And Wallace was more than happy to provide.
She finished with 26 points, one shy of tying her career high. She went 3-for-5 from the perimeter in addition to dishing out four assists, pulling down six boards, blocking two shots and picking off two steals. Wallace did all of this in 28 minutes.
Midway through the third quarter, Wallace threw the ball away on the offensive end but answered by racing down the floor and blocking the fast break layup attempt by Kansas.
“And the crowd went wild,” Mulkey said with a smile. “That’s Kristy. We see it everyday in practice. Y’all see it during the games. This is how that kid practices every day. The only difference now is her freshman year when she messed up she’d beat the heck out of that floor with her hand. I told her, ‘You’re going to break your hand one day.’ So she’s not doing that in practice anymore. She just plays like that every day. She’s high energy and she is one of those that you’re blessed to coach because you don’t have to prod her to get her to going. You know what you’re going to get out of Kristy.”
Later on in the quarter, Wallace sprinted down a long offensive rebound — beating every Jayhawk player to the basketball — and dished a nifty no-look pass to Dekeiya Cohen for the and-1.
“Kristy’s had a terrific season and has really helped those guys play at another level,” Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider said. “She’s a big difference maker. She had a hustle play that led to an and one that we’re going to show our team. She has the kind of competitive grinding spirit you have to play with. She brings that to the table every possession.”
The Ferrell Center crowd was loving every minute of it. As they should.
They’ve only got one more regular season home game to watch the senior dazzle inside the Ferrell Center. Then there’s a pair of NCAA Tournament games in mid March for the Lady Bears at home before they play out the rest of their season on the road.
The only time Wallace ever struggled Saturday afternoon inside the Ferrell Center was on a prerecorded video promotion where she was asked to name as many states as she could. The Queensland, Australia, native answered with Texas immediately and then paused. While she couldn’t think of any more American states, she listed off all of the Australian states and territories. Sadly, they didn’t count toward her total.
While Wallace led Baylor offensively, three more Lady Bears finished in double figures as the team finished shooting 50.7 percent from the floor. Kalani Brown added 20 points, while Dekeiya Cohen and Lauren Cox each had 11.
“Kristy is our energizer bunny,” Brown said. “She’s the glue that holds the team together. She’s a great leader, a great example to me for my senior year how to lead a team. She’s just great to play with, on and off the court.”