The Baylor Lady Bears were back in Waco to clebrating the program’s third national title – and given what they have accomplished in Head Coach Kim Mulkey’s 19 years, it’s safe to say they will be in the mix again next year because NaLyssa Smith gave us a look at what’s in store.
“Yeah, you go out there with a clear head so when you go out there you’re just playing basketball,” Smith says.
With the loss of their leader late in Sunday night’s game, the Lady Bears turned to one of their Fierce Five Freshmen.
“When she went down and they called my name to go in, in my head I was just like, ‘It’s time to step up.’ That’s all I was thinking about there. Everyone on the bench was like, ‘This is your time,'” Smith says.
“Probably should have played her more with Cox and Kalani and put Cox on the perimeter some. But she has ice water in her veins,” Mulkey says.
This is nothing new for NaLyssa. She has been able to provide a spark off the bench since her first game with the Lady Bears. While she hasn’t gotten a lot of minutes this year, she has made every one of them count by being in the right spot at the right time.
“She understands the game,” says sophomore guard Moon Ursin. “She knows where to be and she’s always in the right spot at the right time. She knocked down jumpers, got rebounds for us – and obviously she gets blocks on the other end.”
“We just practice all those things so that when it does happen in the game, we’re prepared for it,” Smith says.
Even on the biggest stage in the game, Smith was ready for primetime.
“It’s really just like my family,” Smith says. “They motivate me. They keep me confident. My team also, they keep me motivated so that when my name does get called I go in there and perform.”
Filling in for Lauren Cox, Smith even gave a nod to their leader with a devestating block.
“Everything was for her this game. The points. Everything. We played for L.C.,” Smith says.
As Cox begins her road to recovery, when they do get back out on the court together they look like they could be quite the formidale front line.
“NaLyssa thinks she can score on every shot she shoots,” Mulkey says. “What she has really worked on, and we will continue to work with her, is on the defensive end. She’s a freshman. You saw them expose her on the screens tonight. She’ll get better at that.”
Lauren Cox got an MRI on her knee on Monday afternoon on her knee.