By The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Brittney Griner scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Odyssey Sims added 15 points to help No. 1 Baylor roll to a 89-60 victory at Minnesota on Sunday.
The Lady Bears (8-0) were never really threatened in the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge game against the Gophers (4-5). Baylor jumped to a double-digit lead in the game’s opening minutes and used its size inside and quickness on the perimeter to overwhelm Minnesota.
Rachel Banham scored 19 points to lead Minnesota, which has now lost three of four. Leah Cotton added 14 and Kiara Buford scored 13 for the Gophers.
The Gophers made slowing Griner their defensive priority, but Baylor proved that it has plenty of other offensive options.
Kimetria Hayden added 11 points for the Lady Bears, who outrebounded Minnesota 58-39. Sims added a game-high nine assists.
Minnesota double- and triple-teammed the 6-foot-8 Griner each time she touched the ball in the paint, forcing other players to score. While Griner had just eight points at halftime and didn’t reach double figures until midway through the second half, she still finished with at least 20 points for the fifth consecutive game.
In the first half, Griner did a good job keeping the ball above her head, staying patient and finding open teammates after the defense collapsed around her. Griner finished with a season-high three assists.
Sims was frequently on the receiving end of passes from Griner. The sophomore guard made a pair of 3-pointers and repeatedly drove to the basket.
In the second half, Griner was more aggressive offensively, scoring 12 points after the break. Along with scoring on post moves an off of offensive rebounds, Griner also put the ball on the floor at drove to the basket. Griner, however, was held below her 24.4 points per game average.
Any hopes Minnesota had of upsetting the Lady Bears were extinguished early. The Gophers missed their first 12 shots and trailed 11-1 before Banham made Minnesota’s first field goal nearly six minutes into the game.
After Baylor stretched its lead to 20 points midway though the first half, Minnesota did close within 11, 31-19, when Buford intercepted a pass and went in for a layup.
The Lady Bears, however, wouldn’t allow another Minnesota field goal before halftime. Sims scored eight points during a 17-2 Baylor run to end the half. Destiny Williams capped the run with a putback basket that gave the Lady Bears a 48-21 halftime lead.