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Hurting Baylor women expect to be bigger, better next season

The immediate pain made it difficult for Nina Davis to think about Baylor’s bright future.

For the second year in a row, the Lady Bears’ season ended with a loss to Notre Dame in a regional final.

“We fell short, and we thought we had a great opportunity to get to the Final Four,” said Davis, the sophomore who was the Big 12 player of the year. “But we had a great season.”

And it could be even better next season — and the season after that, when the women’s Final Four is in Dallas, only about 100 miles from their Waco campus.

Baylor’s lone senior this season was 6-foot-4 center and law school student Sune Agbuke, who played a career-high 35 minutes Sunday in her final game.

The Lady Bears (33-4) will add Duke transfer Alexis Jones to the mix after the guard sat out this season. They also have an incoming signing class with two McDonald’s All-Americans who are both at least 6-4, along with another 6-4 post and two standout guards.

“I’m excited for them because next year they’ll make it better, and that’s just Baylor for you, and that’s just the kind of program that coach (Kim) Mulkey has built here, that this year we made it to an Elite Eight and we’re disappointed because we couldn’t make it further,” Agbuke said. “But next year, man, they’re going to be so great.”

Baylor will return its top six scorers, led by Davis’ 21.1 points per game, and the national assists leader in Niya Johnson, whose 322 assists this season were a Big 12 record.

“It’s just motivation and just will make us work harder in the offseason,” said Johnson, who will be a senior next season.

Baylor has won 437 games and two national titles in Mulkey’s 15 seasons. They Lady Bears have won at least 30 games in each of the last five seasons.

In their first season without either Brittney Griner or Odyssey Sims, both All-America picks for multiple seasons, the Lady Bears still won the Big 12 regular-season and conference titles for the fifth season in a row.

“It was a great journey, and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for this team or anybody. This is going to give us a lot of confidence.” Davis said. “We have a great class coming in and we pretty much bring everybody back except for Sune, so this is going to give us a lot of confidence once we get over this right here, and we’re going to be all right.”

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