WACO, Texas (KWTX) Fans, several thousand of them, were waiting Monday as Baylor’s Lady Bears returned home with the national championship trophy after a heart-stopping one-point win over Notre Dame in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The Sun Country 737 carrying the team landed just after noon Monday in Waco and the Lady Bears emerged, smiling, but weary.
Senior center Kalani Brown was carrying the national championship trophy as she exited the plane
"I am definitely glad to be back home and bring this trophy home to Baylor Nation It's very special for us to bring a national championship to Waco back to the fans,” she said.
The first player to emerge from the plane was junior forward Lauren Cox who went down in the third quarter of Sunday night's game with a knee injury.
She was taken to the locker room in a wheelchair, but returned to the court on crutches to join her teammates on the sideline.
"I'm one of the leaders on this team and I just needed to show them that I was OK, to come back out there and let my voice be heard,” she said.
Cox was expected to have an MRI Monday evening to determine the extent of the damage to her knee.
Former La Vega High School standout and Baylor junior guard Juicy Landrum said she was excited to be back home.
“I definitely feel the support of everybody around here, family and friends and La Vega, they support me like they put me on their backs."
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey had praise for the only Central Texan on the team.
"Well Juicy has a state championship from La Vega High School and now she has a national championship from Baylor University. That may be a first you'll, have to check it out. I don't know in the history of La Vega if anybody's ever done that."
The Lady Bears drove their own cars from the airport to the Ferrell Center where several thousand fans were waiting to celebrate their victory.
As the team stood on stage, the crowd gave them a standing ovation during an hour-long celebration after which, Mulkey said, she hoped her team would simply go home and rest.
"We are all so tired," she said.
The championship is the Lady Bears’ third.
They also brought home championship trophies in 2005 and 2012.