WACO, Texas – The Baylor women’s basketball team and staff gathered inside the Ferrell Center with supporters and fans to celebrate a successful 2017-18 season. The program included recognition of the senior class, presentation of team awards, retirement speeches by voices of the Lady Bears Rick May and Lori Fogleman and remarks from 18th-year head coach Kim Mulkey.
With a roster of 10 or fewer and just three upperclassmen, Baylor overcame adversity on and off the court to accomplish a 33-2 record overall and an unblemished 18-0 mark in Big 12 action to claim its eighth consecutive regular season title. It is the third time the Lady Bears were able to run the table in the Big 12 regular season. The program’s conference dominance continued into the postseason as the team won three games in a row to secure the Big 12 Championship crown.
The Lady Bears, who ended the season with a No. 2 Associated Press national ranking, advanced to the Sweet 16 with strong victories in Waco over Grambling State, 96-46, and Michigan, 80-58, before closing the year with just their second loss of the season to Oregon State, 72-67.
For her leadership, Mulkey earned her sixth Big 12 Coach of the Year award. She was also named WBCA Regional Coach of the Year and a finalist for WBCA National Coach of the Year.
2017-18 Baylor Women’s Basketball Award Winners:
Co-Most Valuable Player: Kalani Brown
Junior center Kalani Brown led the Lady Bears in scoring (20.1), rebounding (10.2), field goal percentage (.650) and double-doubles (18). After scoring more points (702) and registering more rebounds (357) than any other conference player, Brown was unanimously named Big 12 Player of the Year and to the All-Big 12 first team. She earned six All-America honors in addition to being named Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Championship and MVP of the Junkanoo Jam.
Co-Most Valuable Player, Melissa Jones Hustle & Courage Award: Kristy Wallace
Senior guard Kristy Wallace became the program’s 19th All-American earning WBCA All-America honorable mention recognition. She led the Baylor offense dishing out a team-high 155 assists, which ranked fourth in the Big 12 despite having her season cut short due to an ACL injury. Wallace, who assisted on 25.5 percent of shots made with her in the game, was unanimously named to the All-Big 12 first team and to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. She averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Wallace is one of three players in program history to dish out 500 career assists at Baylor.
Coaches’ Award: Dekeiya Cohen
Senior forward Dekeiya Cohen had the best season of her Lady Bear career, averaging 12.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest. She set career-highs in scoring (24 at No. 6/6 Texas), rebounding (14 at No. 8/7 Texas), blocked shots (5 vs. West Virginia), field goals made (10 at No. 6/6 Texas), field goal attempts (18 at No. 6/6 Texas) and minutes played (40 vs. West Virginia). Cohen played several roles for Baylor, fulfilling the team’s needs at the three and four positions. She also shined in tough defensive assignments, while notching 22 double-digit scoring efforts, six double-digit rebounding performances and the first four double-doubles of her career.
Defense Award, Co-Academic Award: Lauren Cox
Sophomore forward Lauren Cox led Baylor and the Big 12 in blocked shots (92) and ranked 14th nationally in the category, while averaging 15.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. She became the 18th All-American in program history, earning Associated Press All-America honorable mention and WBCA All-America honorable mention accolades. Cox was unanimously named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big 12 first team. She was also selected to the Big 12 All-Championship Team and Junkanoo Jam All-Tournament Team, while setting Baylor’s junior class rebounding record with 331 this season. For her work in the classroom, Cox earned CoSIDA Academic All-District first team, Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List recognition.
Co-Academic Award: Didi Richards
Freshman guard Didi Richards appeared in 33 games with one start for the Lady Bears in her debut season. She averaged 5.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting .471 from the floor. Richards made a strong transition academically as well, earning Commissioner’s Honor Roll recognition. She is studying broadcasting and journalism at Baylor.