Griner, No. 1 Baylor women top Miss Valley, 93-55

By The Associated Press

WACO — Mississippi Valley State coach Nate Kilbert normally likes his chances when De’Kisha Fondon is on the mark.

Against top-ranked Baylor, Fondon’s sharpshooting wasn’t enough to overcome the Bears’ depth.

Fondon scored 23 points for Mississippi Valley (2-8) in a 93-55 loss to Baylor on Friday night.

“She’s one of our spot-up shooters that we can get them to sag off of her and get her some good looks,” Kilbert said. “She can really knock it down. When she’s shooting the ball well, we’re a pretty good team.”

Unfortunately for the Devilettes, Baylor applied full-court pressure from the start, opening the game with a 12-0 run, Brittany Griner scored 20 points in 27 minutes and Destiny Williams added 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Bears, who reached 13-0 for the second time in the program’s history.

“We understood what our problem was,” Kilbert said. “There’s just too much depth. They’re too good. They’re too big. There were too many things we couldn’t stop them from doing. I thought we executed, especially in the first half. We got some of the looks we wanted to get.”

Alia Frank had 10 points and Ka’Neshia Smith added 10 rebounds for Mississippi Valley.

“Brittney scared us away from doing some of the things that we like to do as far as penetration,” Kilbert said. “She scared us away from it. We tried to do a lot of screen-and-roll and bring her outside. I thought we did that well in the first half. We had a lot of good looks. But they’re just good, man. They’re just good.”

Griner and Frank were each assessed a technical foul with 2:42 left in the first half. They became tangled after falling to the floor under Baylor’s basket. The technicals were called as they attempted to get back to their feet.

“I really didn’t see enough to take her out of the game and reprimand her,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I felt like I trusted my coaches there, and they felt like (Frank) was trying to take charges all night and kind of undercut Brittney, and they got tangled up and Brittney kind of kicked her off of her or something like that. I’m going to trust that because I didn’t see it that it wasn’t anything dirty. It was a reaction to something she did that probably wasn’t dirty either.”

Griner wasn’t sure exactly what happened.

“I was going to try to just run off, but got tied up,” she said. “I don’t know, I just looked down and had somebody on my legs. It’s just part of the game. It got hot for a moment, but I cooled down a little bit.”

Griner was suspended two games last March after throwing a punch that broke the nose of Texas Tech’s Jordan Barncastle.

Baylor didn’t make a basket in the final 5:22 of the first half, but did make six of 10 free throws down the stretch. Mississippi Valley’s Olivia Kennedy banked in a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, and Baylor led 45-29 at the break. Kennedy’s basket, however, accounted for the lone Mississippi Valley points in a 13-minute stretch that carried over until midway through the second half. Brittney Lakes made a turnaround jumper off the glass with 11:34 left in the game for the Devilettes’ first points of the second half.

Baylor put the game away by opening the second period on a 30-2 run, with seven Bears scoring during the stretch.

“I think they played with a little bit more intensity,” Kilbert said. “They got up on us a little bit more when it came to being aggressive out of their man-to-man. But we just missed some open shots. We got the same looks we had in the first half. We just missed them.”

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey liked what she saw during the Bears’ run.

“I thought the first five minutes of the second half was probably the brightest spot as a group in the entire game,” she said. “I thought all five had a lot of energy, all five were running the floor.”

Mississippi Valley shot its first free throws of the game with 5:28 left in the second half. Aspen Clemons made one of her two attempts. For the game, Baylor made 23 of its 44 free throw shots (52 percent), while Mississippi Valley was two-of-four from the line.

“Look at the way the fouls were called,” Kilbert said. “And I’m not saying they weren’t fouls, because they were. Their inside just wore us down to the point where we were fouling and they were scoring baskets. Everything we did was from the perimeter. That was the big difference in the game.”

“They had someone they could go to and get them an easy basket. When we struggled, we didn’t have nobody who could get an easy basket. We got long shots, but we couldn’t get any easy baskets.”