The Lady Toppers are headed to Texas in their return to the NCAA tournament.
The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team (24-8) earned a No. 15 seed in the field announced Monday night and will face second-seeded Baylor in Saturday’s first round at 5:30 p.m. CDT on the Lady Bears’ home court in Waco, Texas.
WKU is in the Notre Dame region, and its first game will be broadcast on ESPN2. The winner of that game with Baylor will face either No. 7 seed California or No. 10 seed Fordham in the second round in Waco.
WKU has never faced Baylor. The Lady Bears (29-4) beat West Virginia 74-71 on March 10 for the Big 12 championship. They’re ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey won’t be able to coach against WKU because of a one-game NCAA tournament suspension handed down last season by the women’s basketball committee for publicly criticizing referees after the team’s 82-81 loss to Louisville in the Sweet 16.
WKU had a selection show watch party at Mister B’s Pizza & Wings, and coach Michelle Clark-Heard, sophomore Micah Jones and redshirt freshman Kendall Noble talked with the media after the reveal. Here are their comments:
Reaction to draw: “I’m just excited. We were sitting there for a while. Excited for the girls to have a chance to see our name pop up. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. You never know where you’re going to end up and who you’re going to play. I’m just excited we got the opportunity. The coaches, we’re going to get back and prepare and get the girls ready.”
Thoughts on Baylor: “Just the ability to go and play against a great team like Baylor, and the opportunity to play against the leading scorer in the country in Odyssey Sims – the opportunity for these girls, to be able to compete in the NCAA, it’s awesome.”
Baylor coach Mulkey not being able to coach against WKU: “It’s just like coach Mulkey said. She’s been doing this for a long time. Her kids understand and know her. Odyssey’s been with her forever. She has a great staff, and they’ll prepare and do the things they need to. I don’t think that has anything to do with it.”
Playing Baylor in Waco: “The girls will get a chance to soak it in, and we’ll come out ready for practice tomorrow. We’ll fly out Thursday and get us ready and get the kids in the environment.”
Reaction to draw: “We’re excited to go. We’re not going to back down to anyone. Baylor, they’re a good team, and we’re excited about the opportunity to play them.”
Waiting until very end: “It was so nerve-wracking. We were so anxious to see who we were going to play and where we were going to play. To be the last one, it was pretty nerve-wracking.”
Playing team like Baylor: “We’re really excited. They’re a great team and tough competition. We’ll probably learn a lot from them, and if we can, that would be even better.”
Draw: “We’re excited for the opportunity to go down there. We couldn’t control who we were going to play, and we’re excited for the opportunity to build our program up.”
Waiting until the end: “I was nervous the whole time, holding Kendall’s hand. It was hard waiting the whole time, but it was fun.”
Playing at Baylor: “We do play good on the road, and we’ve got a great coaching staff. They’re going to get us ready to play, whoever we were going to play.”