By Chris Derrett
Sophomore Brittney Griner scored 21 points, sophomore Destiny Williams added 18 and Baylor cruised to an 86-53 win over Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals today in Kansas City.
The victory puts the Lady Bears (29-2, 15-1) in the final round, where they face the winner of the Texas A&M vs Oklahoma game that concludes later today.
“I thought we had to come out strong and open the doors for perimeter [shooting] and just get an early start like we did when we played our last game [against Kansas State],” Williams said. “And we did just that.”
Griner headed for the bench with 10 minutes left in the second half after shooting 9 of 15, grabbing six rebounds and blocking a pair of shots.
Freshman Odyssey Sims made all of her first three 3-point attempts en route to 14 points. Sophomore Nae-Nae Hayden was the fourth and final Baylor double-figure scorer at 10 points.
A Williams jumper at 9:42 capped a game-opening, 24-8 run that caused the Wildcats to call their second timeout.
Kansas State did not go away completely, however, later hitting a 3-pointer to cut the Baylor lead to 28-16. Coach Kim Mulkey then called a timeout.
“I thought our defense got us our lead. I thought our defense allowed them to cut it to nine, and then I thought our defense allowed us to extend [the lead] like we did,” Mulkey said.
The Wildcats drained one more trey to further narrow the deficit to 28-19, but the Lady Bears eventually pulled away. Sims pushed the Baylor advantage back to 34-19 with consecutive 3-pointers.
“When they cut it to nine, we knew that we had to defend and put our hands up and defend all of the floor because they’re really great shooters,” Sims said.
Sims finished 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
At halftime, even though Kansas State trailed 41-26, Wildcats coach Deb Patterson said she and her team still felt like they were competing.
But a 16-6 Baylor run before the first media timeout of the second half erased any Kansas State momentum.
“We were absolutely just dominated in that second 20 minutes emotionally, physically,” Patterson said.
Post play proved too strong for Kansas State to hang with the Lady Bears. Williams and Griner led the charge down low, helping Baylor to 34 points in the paint as opposed the Wildcats’ eight. Winning the offensive rebound battle, 22-8, allowed the Lady Bears 18 second chance points.
“Me and B.G. feel more comfortable on the floor with each other,” Williams said. “I thought that B.G. could take it to the hole or hit jump shots. I think B.G. can pass as well and give it to me and vice versa.”
Williams, who rotates in and out of the 4-position with junior Brooklyn Pope, tied Pope with seven rebounds Saturday.
Senior Melissa Jones, the second-shortest player in Baylor’s starting lineup, hauled in a game-high nine boards.
Kelsey Hill’s 14 points led Kansas State, followed by Taelor Karr’s 13. Leading the Wildcats in scoring average, Jalana Childs suited up and tried to start against Baylor despite a hip flexor strain but could only play three minutes.