Griner’s 26 lead unbeaten No. 1 Lady Bears past Iowa St

Iowa State No. 55 center Anna Prins catches the ball in front of Baylor No. 42 center Brittney Griner during the first half of the Cyclones' home game Saturday in Ames, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall | Associated Press

By The Associated Press

AMES, Iowa — Brittney Griner scored 26 points and her teammates contributed just enough to carry No. 1 Baylor past Iowa State 57-45 on Saturday night.

Baylor (15-0, 2-0 Big 12) continued the best start in school history but had to work to do it against a feisty Iowa State team that played deliberately and milked the shot clock.

The Cyclones (9-4, 0-2) led briefly in the first half, trailed by three at the half and were down just 26-24 when Nikki Moody hit a 3-pointer early in the second half.

Baylor responded with a 10-0 run that included five points from Griner to open a 36-24 lead, and though the Cyclones kept threatening, that was enough of a cushion for the Lady Bears to hold on and protect their No. 1 ranking.

Anna Prins, a 6-foot-7 junior who gave the Cyclones their best chance against the 6-8 Griner, led Iowa State with 17 points.

Jordan Madden added 11 points for Baylor, 10 in the second half, to help the Lady Bears pull away. Odyssey Sims, averaging 17.8 points, scored only two but came up with four steals and pressured Moody throughout.

Moody scored only three points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It was Iowa State’s first game against a No. 1 team at home and was much closer than the Cyclones’ three previous games against a team at the top of the Associated Press poll. The Cyclones lost those games by an average of 26 points.

For Griner, it was a much more pleasant experience than her previous visit to Hilton Coliseum two years ago. She was held to 10 points in that one and Iowa State hit 16 3-pointers in blowing out the Lady Bears 69-45.

Iowa State clawed back from Baylor’s early second-half run to draw to 41-36 on Prins’ bucket inside with 9:43 left, and they were still in it when Chelsea Poppens hit a layup with 6:10 remaining. But that’s as close as it would get down the stretch.

Griner, who shot just 9-for-20, scored five points and Madden got free for a layup in a 9-0 run that put it out of reach.

Griner went scoreless in the first 5:35, then showed her versatility in hitting four straight shots — two turnaround jumpers, a baseline jumper and a hook — to put Baylor up 13-5. But she missed her next three and Iowa State got back in it by picking up its rebounding and keeping the Lady Bears away from the basket with a zone defense.

After managing just two baskets in the opening 10 minutes, Iowa State found its touch and ran off 10 straight points. Prins scored over Griner and hit a turnaround, and Lauren Mansfield knocked down two straight 3-pointers, putting ISU up 15-13.

Baylor pulled back ahead on Kimetria Hayden’s 3-pointer a minute-and-a-half later and Iowa State never led again. Four Griner free throws and Sune Agbuke’s layup stretched the lead to 24-17 before Amanda Zimmerman’s free throw and Brynn Williamson’s 3 drew Iowa State to 24-21 at the half.

Iowa State’s methodical pace kept Baylor from running away early as the Lady Bears did a year ago, when they jumped to a 16-0 lead against the Cyclones in Waco.

But when the Iowa State shooters found an opening, they couldn’t convert, missing four close-in shots in the opening minutes. Midway through the first half, the Cyclones were just 2-for-10.

Baylor wasn’t pulling away, though, because while Griner was 4-for-5 at that point, her teammates had missed eight of 10 shots. Then Prins connected over Griner and the Cyclones got back in it.