Lady Bears’ 20th straight win ensured by halftime

Associated Press
No. 42 center Brittney Griner shoots over Texas forward Ashley Gayle, left, Chassidy Fussell (24) and Kristen Nash (32) in the first half of Baylor's home game on Saturday. Baylor won 96-68.

By Matt Larsen
Sports writer

The No. 1 team in the country seemed to get even better with another double-double outing by Brittney Griner as Baylor ended Texas’ 4-game streak while extending its own to 20 games with a 96-68 win in the Ferrell Center Saturday afternoon.

“We ran when we needed to, then kept feeding Griner,” head coach Kim Mulkey said.

“We kept having the momentum today. We never ever allowed them to think they could win the basketball game.”

Both teams came out looking to push the ball up the floor and unafraid to shoot, combining for 19 shots and sinking over half of them in the first four and half minutes.

The Longhorns seemed to have consistent answers for about three and a half more minutes, down 16-12 at the 12-minute mark.

A defensive stop ignited the pull-away run for Baylor though, as sophomore Brooklyn Pope swatted away a Longhorn’s running jumper to force a shot clock violation.

The third sell-out crowd this season voiced their pleasure at the defensive effort.

Before the drive, Griner left her feet on a pump fake but Pope did not let her teammate get beat that easily.

“We set that up,” Griner said, smiling. “She has my back, and I [have] hers.”

The Lady Bears followed that defensive stand with a 23-4 run, making it 39-16 at the 4:27 mark.
Griner was the driving force for Baylor during that stretch.

She outscored the Longhorns all by herself in the first half, ending the half with stats most players would be happy to finish a game with.

The sophomore post put up 23 points, hauled in seven rebounds, hit 7 of 7 from the free throw line and managed six blocks in the first 20 minutes of play.

As the crowd erupted again to close out the half, one would have thought Griner’s jumper that dropped through the net as the half-time buzzer sounded won the game for her team.

“They appreciate the product on the floor,” Mulkey said.

The Lady Bears took a 50-22 lead into the locker room.

After sitting most the first half with two fouls, freshman guard Odyssey Sims made her reappearance known in the second, adding 10 points to finish the night with 15.

The Longhorns seemed unable to close the gap as Sims and company went on a 20-7 run during the first seven minutes of the second half, extending the lead to 70-29.

Pope seemed to put the exclamation point on the win with still 12 minutes to play as she sent a Longhorn’s layup attempt hurling off a Baylor cheerleader and into the section of Golden Wave Band courtside players.

One exclamation point, however, just wasn’t enough.

The same cheerleader felt a second exclamation point bounce off her head less than two minutes later as Griner sent another Longhorn layup back toward the hardwood.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore went to the bench at the 10-minute mark with seven swats and her team combined for 13 blocks on the afternoon.

Senior Melissa Jones, who had one of those blocks, also finished with a double-double.

The guard notched 14 points and 10 rebounds, all of which came on the defensive end.

“On a day like today, when you put all the defense together,” Jones said reflecting on the defensive work her team puts in during practice. “It’s all worth it.”