NCAA Women: Kristy Wallace tears ACL, ending college career

Baylor senior and Big 12 All-First Team and All-Defensive Team guard Kristy Wallace has received the worst possible injury news in the lead-up to the NCAA postseason, with scans revealing that the Australian tore the ACL in her right knee during the Bears’ Senior Day win over West Virginia on Tuesday.

Wallace slipped whilst contesting for the ball during the early stages of the contest, and whilst she returned for the Senior Day festivities at halftime and participated in the team’s regular season championship celebrations following the game, she did not return to the game itself. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey indicated in the post-game press conference that Wallace leaving the game was not a precautionary measure and that if the Australian had been able to play, she would have been on court.

Wallace has been among the best-performed players, not only within Australian ranks, but in the country this season, leading the #3 Baylor side from the point guard position throughout their campaign. The senior has improved her scoring numbers from 7.6 points per game a season ago, averaging 12.9 points throughout this season, whilst also keeping her assist numbers steady, tallying 5.3 dimes per game in a Bears side that has compiled a 28-1 record, going a perfect 18-0 in Big 12 regular season action. Wallace’s performances this season garnered her a unanimous Big 12 All-Conference First Team selection as well as an All-Defensive Team nod, with the latter just reward for a player whose tenacity on defence has been a hallmark of her game since the moment she set foot in Waco.

The timing of the injury makes the already devastating news even more brutal, with Baylor looking primed to make a real run at their first Final Four since winning their second national championship in 2012.

The team has reached the Elite Eight in all three of Wallace’s previous seasons with the team, but the ACL injury will now deny her the chance to play on the last weekend in March, should the team reach the Final Four. Wallace will now surely also be ruled out of Opals 2019 FIBA World Cup contention, with any opportunity to build upon her selection in training camp prior to last year’s FIBA Asia tournament now lost. Professional ambitions for Wallace will also go on hold, with the news certain to scare off many WNBA teams in the upcoming draft. However, it is not completely unheard of for teams with few needs to take a flyer on players with injuries that would keep them out of their rookie seasons.

Despite the untimely conclusion of her collegiate career, Wallace’s contribution to Baylor will not be quickly forgotten, with the Australian proving to be a fan favourite throughout her time with the program, as proven by the outpouring of support on social media even before the scope of the injury became official, with many people on Twitter posting pictures of themselves and their children with the Australian star.

Wallace’s injury becomes the latest in a long line of injuries suffered by Aussie women in college this year, with Carly Turner, Alicia Froling, Morgan Yaeger, Krystle McKenzie, and Grace Lennox all seeing their seasons derailed or ended due to injury this year. With the exception of Lennox and Wallace, none of these players even took to the court this season, whilst McKenzie was forced to medically retire due to concussion-related issues.