Lady Bears sit alone atop Big 12
By Krista Pirtle
Kids are taught sharing is caring, but when it comes to the Big 12 regular season title that is just not the case.
The No. 1 Baylor Lady Bears now stand alone at the top of the conference after beating the Texas Longhorns 80-59 Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.
Before tipoff, junior Brittney Griner was presented a basketball for becoming the fourth Lady Bear to score 2,000 points. Coincidentally, she scored the first bucket for Baylor in less than a minute.
In only 28 minutes of play, Griner scored her 40th career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. This happened to be her 100th game in the green and gold. Junior Destiny Williams also recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Junior Kimetria “Nae Nae” Hayden stepped up for the Lady Bears behind the arch, going 3 for 5 and totaling 17 points on the evening.
“I really didn’t have any confidence,” Hayden said. “[Head coach Kim Mulkey] kept telling me someone had to shoot it. Once the ball has been reversed, don’t give up an open look.”
Sophomore Odyssey Sims had only seven points but a team-high six assists. Junior Brooklyn Pope played 20 minutes, scoring 13. She went to the free throw line 16 times but only found the bottom of the net seven.
“It’s embarrassing,” Pope said. “I’ve been working on them. It’s just muscle memory. My muscles aren’t strong enough to remember. I could have had more points than Brittney Griner.”
The Lady Bears out-rebounded Texas 51-39. These boards allowed Baylor 21 second-chance points.
The Longhorns ran a sag two-three zone defense with at least two players within reach of Griner.
“Don’t pass it up,” Mulkey said. “I’ll take you out of the game if you pass it up.”
Despite the wide-open looks, Baylor patiently reversed the ball until a hole was discovered in the defense and an easy bucket was scored down low.
The Lady Bears owned the paint, scoring 40 to Texas’ 26.
On the defensive side for Baylor, the Lady Bears once again held their opponent to under 50 percent shooting from the floor.
“It’s their perimeter defense that sets the tone,” Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors said.
The Lady Bears also had 10 steals on the evening as Griner, Hayden and Pope each had two.
Baylor also played smart, fouling a total of nine times for the entire game.
Texas only made it to the free throw line once on a shooting foul.
With under two minutes left to play, sophomore Shanay Washington went down with what looked to be another ACL injury.
“She thinks it’s torn again and she heard a pop,” Mulkey said. “It’s a big downer. Life’s not fair.”
With its first goal met, Baylor hits the road to finish out the rest of conference play, taking on the Jayhawks at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Lawrence, Kan.