Baylor undefeated with 71-44 win over Oklahoma StBy STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Basketball Writer Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012
WACO, Texas (AP)—During one timeout in the first half, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey stood still while glaring at her team gathering on the bench. There were other moments when the frustration was clear on her face.
Things changed drastically after halftime, when a close game became a 71-44 victory for the top-ranked Lady Bears over Oklahoma State.
Destiny Williams scored seven of her 11 points as Baylor (16-0, 3-0 Big 12), which had led by only two at the half, had a 20-4 run in the first 7 minutes of the second half Wednesday night to put the game out of reach.
“We made shots,” Mulkey said, explaining the second-half turnaround. “I don’t know that we had more energy. Maybe it seemed that way. After you make a shot, you get a little more excited, a little more adrenaline going.”
Brittney Griner had 28 points and 11 rebounds for her 34th career double-double, and also had eight blocked shots. Williams also had 13 rebounds for her own double-double, and Odyssey Sims had 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
The Lady Bears, who never trailed, pushed ahead 46-28 after consecutive baskets by Williams. After making a layup and then an Oklahoma State turnover, Williams missed badly on a break before she grabbed the rebound and followed up her own shot.
“We missed some easy shots. Destiny had a couple in there, and she just hung in there and rebounded the ball, finished with a quiet double-double,” Mulkey said. “I thought Odyssey kept competing in there. I guess we were resilient. We were resilient to hang in there and keep with it.”
Baylor won its 33rd consecutive home game.
Freshman Liz Donohoe led Oklahoma State (9-3, 1-2) with 19 points and eight rebounds. Toni Young had 13 points.
The Cowgirls entered the game as the nation’s top field-goal defense, allowing opposing teams to shoot only 29 percent.
“They’re young, they’re big, they’re long, they have perimeter shooters,” Mulkey said. “We played hard and we guarded people, we just couldn’t make a shot to get in a rhythm there.
Baylor shot 38 percent for a 26-24 halftime lead. Griner had half of their points by then on 6-of-10 shooting while the rest of the team was 5-of-19.
The Lady Bears made 16 of 28 shots after halftime.
“I think they just turned it up to a different level, to be honest,” Cowgirls coach Jim Littell said. “I could give you all kinds of different things and coach-talk and all that, but I think they just turned it up to a different level. They beat us off the dribble. They went about three possessions in a row coast-to-coast.”
After the opening spurt in the second half, Sims had three 3-pointers in a span of just over 2 minutes for a 55-34 lead.
The Cowgirls were coming off a 70-51 victory over then-No. 23 Texas, but have lost three of their last four games. Before that, they had won seven in a row since coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash Nov. 17 while on a recruiting trip in Arkansas.
Orange ribbons were given to fans entering the arena in memory of Budke and Serna.
When Littell came out on the court just ahead of his team, Baylor fans responded with a standing ovation and a polite round of applause. Mulkey walked out a few moments later, and shared a hug with Littell near the Oklahoma State bench.
“The fans from Baylor are very classy and very knowledgeable, and that was something that was very much appreciated,” Littell said.
The two teams gathered at midcourt for a prayer after the game.
Baylor is the only Division I school with both its men’s and women’s teams undefeated. The fourth-ranked men are also 16-0 after a win at Kansas State on Tuesday night.
The game was played only hours after Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III announced that he was bypassing his senior season at Baylor to enter the NFL draft.
Griner, a 6-foot-8 junior phenom, would be eligible for the WNBA draft if she chose to leave after this season. The AP All-America pick told The Associated Press that she hasn’t even thought about leaving Baylor early.
Griner now has 480 career blocks, matching former TCU standout Sandora Irvin for third on the NCAA Division I list, and 23 shy of No. 2 on that list. With her 89 blocks this season, Griner now has the top three single-season totals in Baylor history.
The Cowgirls were even at 22 with 1:54 left in the first half when Young had a short jumper.
But Williams then hit a long jumper and Griner blocked a shot by Donohoe. Sims grabbed the ball and converted a breakaway layup.
Donohoe’s 12 points at halftime accounted for half of Oklahoma State’s total. Donohoe, the Cowgirls’ top scorer this season, is the reigning Big 12 freshman of the week for the third time this season.
“She’s a gym rat,” Littell said. “She’s just made herself a good player.”