No. 1 Lady Bears rout Bulldogs, 109-59, to stay perfect

Yale forward Janna Graf defends as No. 32 forward Brooklyn Pope attempts a shot in the second half of the game Tuesday at the Ferrell Center. Baylor won, 109-59.
Associated Press

Three Baylor players post double-doubles

By Stephen Hawkins
Associated Press Basketball Writer

WACO — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey removed her entire starting lineup only a few minutes into the anticipated lopsided game against Yale.

Not because the top-ranked Lady Bears were off to a fast start. They were behind.

They got the message and then did what was expected.

Brittney Griner had 31 points and 10 rebounds, one of three Baylor players to finish with a double-double. The Lady Bears shook off their slow start and rolled to a 109-59 victory Tuesday night, two days over their decisive win over then-No. 2 Notre Dame to clearly establish themselves as the nation’s No. 1 team.

“We just couldn’t get going,” Mulkey said. “I thought it started on the defensive end poorly. We weren’t in passing lanes like we were in the Notre Dame game, we weren’t pressuring the ball.”

The Lady Bears didn’t practice Monday so Mulkey and her staff could go to Stillwater, Okla., to attend the memorial service for Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna, who were killed in a plane crash last week.

Baylor (5-0) now has a few days to get ready for its next game and another big test, Sunday at sixth-ranked Tennessee.

Sophomore point guard Odyssey Sims had 13 points and 13 assists against Yale for her first career double-double, along with seven steals with only two turnovers in 25 minutes. Brooklyn Pope had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Baylor, while Destiny Williams finished with 13 points.

The Bulldogs (2-2) had a 15-11 lead after Alicia Seelaus and Halejian had consecutive 3-pointers in less than a minute with a layup by Griner in between. After Pope’s jumper cut the deficit to a basket, Mulkey took out the starters with just over 14 minutes left.

“I was very proud of the five kids that came in the game,” Mulkey said. “They played with a lot more excitement and energy, and we started pressing more toward the end of the half and into the second half just to get our motor going.”

By the time Griner and Sims returned to the game about 5 minutes later, the Lady Bears were still down by one.

That deficit didn’t last long.

“That slow start and getting taken out, Coach really didn’t need to say anything,” Griner said. “That was enough for me to recognize that I needed to step it up and get it going.”

Griner scored 10 of her points, all on layups or short jumpers, when the Lady Bears closed out the first half with a 29-5 run after the game was tied 28-all and went on to win its 52nd consecutive non-conference game at home.

Griner’s 29th career double-double, her fourth this season, came while the 6-foot-8 preseason AP All-America pick played only 23 minutes. She made 13 of 16 shots, all five free throws and had five blocks, pushing her career total to 420, only 27 from breaking the Big 12 record.

Zenab Keita and Sarah Halejian scored 13 points apiece for Yale.

“Believe it or not, we think that was kind of fun,” Bulldogs coach Chris Gobrecht said “At Yale, we live in a really different world. So it’s kind of a neat thing for us as basketball players … to step into an atmosphere that’s all about women’s basketball. It’s so different from the life that we all live.”

With the inside presence of Griner, Pope and Williams, the Lady Bears outrebounded Yale 52-23 and had a 74-18 scoring advantage in the paint.

“Physically, we gave away inches and pounds at every single position. Physically, it was tough,” Chris Gobrecht said. “Many times we were there and they were still scoring.”

Baylor went ahead to stay when Jordan Madden drove with a scooping layup that broke the 28-all tie with 6½ minutes left in the half. Sims then had a quick steal that she turned into a short basket.

The Lady Bears went on to score 13 consecutive points for a 41-28 lead, a stretch that ended with back-to-back baskets by Griner on passes from Sims. After Janna Graf hit a 3-pointer for Yale, Baylor scored 12 more in a row and went on to a 57-33 halftime lead.

“After Coach took us out and put us back in, it took me a minute to get going,” Sims said. “I thought the posts ran the floor really well. I was just finding the open player and running the offense, and creating opportunities for my teammates.”