Cowgirls no match for Griner’s dominance, team depth
Saturday could not have gone any better for the Lady Bears, as three players finished in double figures and everybody got playing time in a 70-39 win over Oklahoma State.
Sophomore Brittney Griner led Baylor with 18 points, falling a rebound short of a double-double. Freshman Odyssey Sims scored 15 on 5 of 6 shooting, and senior Melissa Jones notched 10 and hauled in eight rebounds.
Because it was Family Day at the Ferrell Center, each Lady Bear played no fewer than eight minutes. Every active member of the team finished the game recording at least one statistic in the final box score.
“I thought that it was important on Family Night to play everybody and to do it early,” Mulkey said.
Junior transfer Destiny Williams also made her first career start Saturday night in place of junior Brooklyn Pope. The move had nothing to do with either player’s performance, Mulkey said.
“I wanted to give Destiny a look there. I think Destiny does more things facing the basket with her shot. I think Brook does more things from a defensive point of view being a strong rebounder” she said.
Williams scored nine points in 13 minutes, while Pope managed six points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes.
The Lady Bears opened the game on a 12-3 run before the Cowgirls answered with five straight points of their own. It was the closest Oklahoma State would come before Baylor reaffirmed its No. 1 ranking and overpowered its foe.
The Baylor lead reached 30 on a Jones free throw midway through the second half. Even then, Mulkey’s squad made sure that no hustle opportunity went unrealized.
A minute after Jones’ free throw, Sims hit the floor trying to grab the ball she knocked out of a ball handler’s hands. Sims was whistled for a foul, but Mulkey said she was more glad to see such effort with the game virtually decided.
The hustle play of the game, however, came just before halftime, when Oklahoma State’s Lakyn Garrison looked to score an easy layup on an uncontested fast break. Griner had other ideas, sprinting the length of the court to swat Garrison like one of Griner’s favorite NBA players.
“It’s my favorite,” Griner said. “I love LeBron [James], and I see him doing it a lot. When I saw [Garrison] going, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I got this. That ball’s going to go flying out of bounds.’”
The only question remaining, if any, was if the Lady Bears would be able to sustain such a large lead after being unable to do so on various occasions earlier in the season. A week ago, against No. 16 Iowa State, Baylor led by as many as 21 but won by 12. Hosting No. 16 ranked Notre Dame in December, the Lady Bears claimed an 11-point victory but were up by 22 in the second half.
“That starts with me and the point guard,” Mulkey said. “We work on that all the time. We’ll talk about it, we’ll show it on film, we’ll bring [Sims] in, because it starts with that position first.”
When Sims left with 9:10 remaining in the game, her team led 57-24. Griner took a seat less than a minute later, and the reserves gave parents plenty of photo opportunities while closing out the lopsided affair.