Griner goes for 30, No. 1 Baylor women roll 81-62By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Feb 2, 2013
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)—With top-ranked Baylor steamrolling through the Big 12 for a second straight season, it can seem like each lopsided win looks like any other.
Except if you’re coach Kim Mulkey.
Through her eyes, a dominating 81-62 victory over No. 19 Oklahoma State on Saturday night was nowhere near as satisfying as the last outing in the Bears’ record 32-game winning streak in the Big 12.
Her team’s first nine wins in conference play came by a remarkable margin of 25 points, so this one was below average by those standards.
“I can’t look at final score and go, `Wow, we won another one by 20.’ You know, I’ve got to coach,” said Mulkey, pursuing her third national title. “You’re not going to win many games having 20 turnovers. You’re not going to win many basketball games when you have them getting 22 offensive boards.
“If you’re going to be the No. 1 team in the country, then you need to play like it. I just didn’t think that we played like it tonight.”
With national player of the year Brittney Griner and a loaded roster around her, it was still more than enough to win on the road against another Top 25 team.
Griner had 30 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven assists, Odyssey Sims had 15 points and nine assists and the Bears took control with an 18-2 run midway through the first half.
Mulkey called timeout and put her five starters back on the floor with 10:03 remaining, just after Liz Donohoe’s scoop shot put Oklahoma State (15-5, 4-5) up 21-16. The decisive burst came immediately afterward.
“Coach was on us about being down five. We didn’t have any intensity and we didn’t have no energy,” Sims said. “We tried our best to just pick it up.”
Griner had three baskets and also assisted on a 3-pointer by Jordan Madden and Kimetria Hayden’s layup during the stretch, which featured two shot-clock violations by the Cowgirls. Sims stretched the lead to 34-23 with a steal that led to a three-point play.
“We were in there the whole time. It’s just that little spurt where we couldn’t hit shots and our offense wasn’t working to our advantage,” said Oklahoma State’s Tiffany Bias, who had 13 points and six assists. “That happens, and we didn’t react as quick as we should have.”
Baylor didn’t even bother to warm up before the second half, then scored the first seven points to push the lead to 44-26 on Brooklyn Pope’s fast-break layup.
Oklahoma State scored 14 of its first 19 points in the second half off of second chances, keeping it just close enough that Mulkey could never get her starters much rest. Griner came out once, but was back up off the bench less than a minute later when the Cowgirls got layups from Toni Young and Donohoe to pull within 62-49 without the 6-foot-8 phenom protecting the rim.
As she did much of the game, Griner effortlessly caught a lob in the lane, turned around and sank a mid-range jumper with no one tall enough to really contest the high pass or her shot. She then pitched the ball out to Sims for a 3-pointer and the Bears’ lead was back up to 69-53.
Griner, a senior, had never before had more than five assists in a game.
“My teammates did a great job of cutting off of me, and when I got the ball and they came down to double me, I was able to find them,” said Griner, who was 12 for 18 from the field and blocked three shots.
Donohoe led the Cowgirls with 24 points, one off her season best. Freshman Brittney Martin had 12 rebounds, half of them on the offensive end.
The Bears’ 22 offensive rebounds allowed were a season high and the 20 turnovers were their most in Big 12 and tied for their second-most all season. The defending national champions have still won each of their Big 12 games by at least 15 points.
Their only loss was against Stanford in November.
Much like in the first meeting in Waco, Oklahoma State was right in it for the first 10 minutes before the Bears found another gear. The first game was tied at the halfway point of the first half, but then the Bears pulled away for an 83-49 victory.
Mulkey had Griner and four reserved on the court at that point in the rematch, when the Cowgirls were threatening.
“Sometimes you’ve just to get their attention and a wake-up call. We’ve got enough talent and enough depth on this team that if I’ve got to start a different five, I’ll start a different five,” Mulkey said. “If I’ve got to put a different player on the floor to wake us up, I will.”