KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Odyssey Sims and Brittney Griner made it easy for No. 1 Baylor to move into the semifinals of the Big 12 women’s tournament.
Sims scored 18 points and Griner had 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks to power the Lady Bears to a 72-48 win over Texas Tech in the quarterfinals Thursday, leaving Baylor (32-0) eight wins away from their goal of a perfect season and a national championship.
Griner dominated inside and Sims came through with four three-pointers. The Lady Bears move into Friday’s semifinal against Kansas State. Against the Lady Raiders (19-13), Baylor built a 24-point halftime lead and kept up the pressure in the second half.
“I thought we were very aggressive,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We picked up too many fouls and had to sit players. But at the same time, those players going to the bench gave other players opportunities.”
Monique Smalls led Texas Tech with 11 points and Kelsi Baker had a team-high nine rebounds.
The Lady Bears, who had two single-digit wins over the Lady Raiders in the regular season, didn’t let Texas Tech hang around for long in the quarterfinals. Baylor needed a few minutes to get adjusted to Tech’s zone defense but never looked back after taking a 6-4 lead 4:04 into the game.
In the regular season, Texas Tech used the 3-point shot to stay close to the Lady Bears, but Texas Tech hit only 3 of 14 shots from 3-point range on Thursday.
“When you spread the floor and go to a nontraditional type of offense to attack Griner or to keep Griner from being effective on the defensive end, you have to deviate from what you normally do,” Mulkey said. “That’s good if you’re successful at making threes. But I thought we were out there and didn’t give them many open looks for threes.”
The Lady Bears went to work after pondering what went wrong in the opening four minutes At that point, Sims got things rolling with a couple of assists over the top of the zone, and then Baylor went to a full court press to speed up the game. With the intimidating Griner stopping drives to the basket, Texas Tech shot 18.5 percent (5 of 27) in the first half and had 12 turnovers. Baylor, meanwhile, shot 61.5 percent from the field (16 of 26) in the first 20 minutes.
Sims broke out of a brief shooting slump with her 3-point barrage.
“I’ve been in the gym shooting before and after practice,” Sims said.
Griner left the game for good midway through the second half and was able to get some rest for Friday’s matchup against Kansas State post player Jalana Childs, who had 31 points on Thursday against Iowa State.
“I caught the last eight seconds of the game,” Griner said. “Kansas State, they’ve got great players and they are well-coached. It will be a good game.”
The Lady Bears had an easy time against Texas Tech despite the fact that front-liner Brooklyn Pope did not play. Mulkey did not give a reason for Pope missing the game, other than to say she was not injured.
Texas Tech, which beat Texas in the opening round Wednesday, pulled within 11 points with 3:53 left in the half before Baylor went on a 13-0 run—closing out the first half ahead 40-16 after a 3-point bank shot from reserve Ashley Field at the buzzer.
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