By Krista Pirtle
Solid defense, transition offense and finishing opportunities confirmed the No. 1 ranking for the Baylor Lady Bears as they edged off No. 2 Notre Dame for their first preseason WNIT championship win 94-81.
Sophomore Odyssey Sims made the all-tournament team, as did the MVP junior Brittney Griner.
“We’re not just a one man team,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “You look down the lineup, and we’re pretty darn good.”
Griner led all scorers for the afternoon, recording her 29th career double double with 32 points and 14 rebounds.
“I was really pumped,” Griner said. “This was the first TV game for us. It was No. 1 v. No. 2. Who wouldn’t be pumped to go out there and play?”
Following her were Sims with 25 and junior Destiny Williams with 15.
Williams also recorded a double double, the 13th of her career with 13 boards.
Junior Brooklyn Pope brought down eight boards for the Lady Bears.
Baylor proved it has depth with 32 points coming off the bench compared to Notre Dame’s five.
Sims improved on her assist to turnover ratio, recording six assists to two turnovers tonight.
She also picked the pockets of Notre Dame six times on the afternoon.
Senior Terran Condrey stepped up defensively as well with five steals of her own and the same assist to turnover ratio as Sims.
For both Sims and Condrey, each recorded her career high in swipes.
“I was proud of Terran,” Mulkey said.
Sims did not start the game, as Coach Mulkey had Williams in the guard slot and junior Brooklyn Pope at the post spot.
“Probably at some point this year, Destiny will play outside the perimeter,” Mulkey said. “Then we can bring in Pope for big boards.”
Free throws were big for Baylor as it shot 17 in the first half and 21 in the second half, recording 29 points from free opportunities, totaling a 76.3 percentage.
At the beginning of both halves, Notre Dame came out strong, but Baylor fought back to regain the lead and extend it.
“Notre Dame came out [of the half] with more of a purpose than we did,” Mulkey said. “I purposefully didn’t call a time out. They’ve got to grow up. I can’t fix it. So you go out and fix it yourself.”
On the boards, Baylor pulled down 20 offensively, resulting in 21 second chance points.
Again, the Lady Bear defense held its opponent to under 50% shooting from the floor in 178 straight games, with Notre Dame recording a 38.9 percentage.
“I learned some of the things I already know,” Mulkey said. “We can be a very good defensive team. We have the athleticism to rebound the ball. It was key in a lot of stretches. I thought that it was important to get to the foul line.”
Baylor returns to the hardwood at the Ferrell Center at 6:30 Tues. Nov. 22 against Yale.