By Stephen Hawkins
Iowa State was back in the Top 25 after its first 2-0 Big 12 start in eight years and with one of the top defenses in the country.
The 25th-ranked Cyclones still had nothing on defending national champion Baylor.
Brittney Griner scored the game’s first five points and finished with 23 as the Lady Bears beat Iowa State 67-39 Wednesday in their first game since regaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s poll. Baylor won its 25th consecutive Big 12 game, a new league record, and stretched its overall home winning streak to 48 games in a row.
“I thought for a long time trying to figure out something brilliant to say, and I don’t know if there’s anything new that can be said,” Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. “Baylor does it the right way in everything that they do. Brittney is Brittney.”
And the Lady Bears (13-1, 3-0 Big 12) are dominating when they do it.
Baylor outscored Iowa State 50-0 in the paint. The Cyclones also didn’t have any second-chance points or score on any fastbreaks.
Hallie Christofferson and Chelsea Poppens, their top two scorers coming into the game, combined for only 2 points. That was on two free throws by Poppens as they went a combined 0-for-7 shooting.
Nikki Moody had 11 points for Iowa State (11-2, 2-1), which had 15 of its 24 turnovers by halftime.
“We still learn from it. We don’t just say Baylor is good, they’re going to win games,” Poppens said. “But we lose this, we go to the next game with a vengeance ready to play and then we play Baylor again in two weeks.”
Baylor goes to Iowa State on Jan. 23. That means the Lady Bears will complete their season series with the Cyclones before even playing three of the other league teams.
The Lady Bears had already matched Oklahoma’s 24-game conference winning streak set from March 2005-January 2007. Baylor has also won 48 games in a row overall at home, the longest active winning streak.
Griner scored the game’s first five points and already had 11 as Baylor jumped out to a 16-3 lead in just over 8 minutes.
“The first thing that stood out was 50 points in the paint to zero,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a stat like that.”
The Cyclones did hit nine 3-pointers (out of 25 attempts).
“I just thought that defensively, you knew they were going to shoot a lot of 3s,” Mulkey said. “I don’t like that they made nine. But when you consider you’re 50-0 in the paint, the points had to come from somewhere.
Iowa State made its first three shots of the second half, including a pair of 3-pointers by Moody. But the Cyclones were only within 42-27 when Nicole Blaskowsky made a jumper with her foot on the 3-point line, and Baylor then scored 17 consecutive points over the next 9 minutes.
The Cyclones had held their first 12 opponents to only 48 points a game and allowed them to shoot only 30 percent.
None of those were like Baylor.
The Lady Bears have won their Big 12 games this season by more than 33 points a game, though this was the closest. They won by 39 points over TCU before beating then-No. 13 Oklahoma State by 34.
Kimetria Hayden added 10 points and 10 assists for Baylor, while Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams both had 10 points. Williams also grabbed nine rebounds.
Odyssey Sims finished with seven points after shooting 3-of-8 from the field and 1-of-4 from the free throw line, but she had six assists, four steals, four rebounds and only one turnover in her 32 minutes.
In the final minute of the first half, Sims stole the ball from Moody, who with a foul knocked Baylor’s preseason All-American point guard to the ground.
Sims had made all 27 of her free throws this season – and 38 in a row going back to last season – before missing the front end of the bonus. But she almost immediately stole the ball from Poppins and drove for a layup and a 35-19 halftime lead.
“We’re hanging around in the first half and make three really, really bad plays, and bam, it’s over,” Fennelly said. “It’s like you didn’t see the left hook. Over and you’re out. That’s what great teams do and that’s certainly what they did to us.”