By The Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. — Like most of its other opponents, top-ranked Baylor left Nebraska badly beaten yet mighty impressed.
Brittney Griner scored 23 points to lead three Baylor players in double figures and the Lady Bears won their 19th straight game with a 69-45 victory Wednesday night.
Odyssey Sims had 14 points and Brooklyn Pope added 12 while Destiny Williams had nine rebounds.
“They’re as good as advertised,” Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore said. “They just have so many weapons that can hurt you. It’s hard to pick something that’s going to affect them, even the slightest.”
Baylor (22-1, 9-0 Big 12) came in outscoring opponents by an average of 30 points a game, and only one team has played the Lady Bears closer than 10 points during their win streak. They had a double-digit lead in just over 4 minutes against the Huskers and led by as many as 26 points.
“I just think we’re competitive,” Pope said. “It doesn’t matter how big the lead is. We still want to be better than our opponent at all times. We just keep going and going.”
Nebraska (12-7, 2-7), which has lost five of six games, had only nine players in uniform because of injuries. It didn’t help that they all looked nervous at the start against the first No. 1 team to visit the Devaney Sports Center.
The Huskers missed their first nine shots, including a couple of air balls and three other bad misses, before Lindsey Moore made the first of her four 3-pointers 6:08 into the game. Moore finished with 18 points and Jordan Hooper had 14.
“It would have been interesting if maybe we had hit some shots early, if we could have hung,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said before cutting herself off. “Obviously, that’s a stretch of my imagination a little bit.”
Nebraska shot 28 percent from the field, making it the 11th straight Baylor opponent held under 30 percent.
“I hope people, when they watch us play, enjoy watching how hard we play on the defensive end of the floor as much as what we do offensively,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We work at that. The players will tell you they probably get sick of doing defense each day. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t do four-on-four, five-on-five and halfcourt defending. While we’re not there yet, we are getting better defensively.”
Sims made two 3-pointers and Terran Condrey one during a 13-2 run that stretched the lead to 28-9. Baylor was up 40-21 at the half.
Griner had 15 points in the first half but didn’t show the dominant form fans have come to expect from her. The Huskers had a couple 6-foot-3 centers, senior Catheryn Redmon and freshman Adrianna Maurer, to guard the 6-8 Griner. They double-teamed Griner at times, but sometimes let her go one-on-one.
The preseason All-American, shooting 55 percent for the season, missed six of her first nine shots and finished 6 of 14. She made all 11 of her free throws, but grabbed just four rebounds, half her average.
“They tried to guard Griner with two, and she found the open (forward),” Mulkey said. “They got away from the double team and it allowed Griner to do some one-on-one stuff in there.”
Yori said there isn’t much a defense can do against Griner.
“She’s seen every double-team and triple-team imaginable,” Yori said. “She’s become a great passer for her position, and she knows where to look. We tried to single her some, double her some and keep her guessing a little.”
Mulkey gave each of her players some minutes, and eight of them scored.
“We have depth. You saw that tonight,” she said. “If we can stay away from injury and get rotation of players in and out of a game, it makes us that much more difficult to guard.”
The Lady Bears also showed that they don’t let down once the game is well in hand.
“Coach says never play the scoreboard,” Griner said. “No matter what the score is, don’t look at it. Go out and play your game and act like you’re down every time. Play hard.”