Lady Bears knock off No. 2 team in Big 12

No. 42 Brittney Griner blocks Kansas’ No. 15 Chelsea Gardner’s shot Saturday in the Ferrell Center. Baylor beat Kansas 74-46. Griner’s performance earned her second place on the NCAA all-time blocks list.
Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

By Krista Pirtle
Sports Writer

The No. 1 Lady Bears had five seconds to inbound the ball under their basket.

The whistle blew, the Red Sea parted and Baylor’s chosen one broke up the middle. Then she chose to lay it in.

“After I got my hands and the ball up there, I realized that I should’ve dunked that,” junior Brittney Griner said. “I was wide open. My teammates set me some very good screens.”

Griner led her team with 28 points to another victory, 74-46 over Kansas, the No. 2 team in the Big 12.

She also recorded five blocks, making her No. 2 on the NCAA Division 1 Career Top Ten List.

The first three seemed ordinary for Griner, but there was something different about her fourth.

“I love defense,” Griner said. “Blocking shots is definitely my favorite thing to do. I just took a leap. I decided that if I miss it, oh well. I connected and turned into [men’s senior player] Quincy Acy for a minute.”

Head coach Kim Mulkey had some concerns as to the energy level of her team after playing in Norman, Okla., on Thursday evening, but her team came out firing. Griner had an easy bucket followed by two 3-pointers by juniors Jordan Madden and Nae Nae Hayden.

Those were the only treys Baylor would have on the evening, but the early threat forced Kansas to leave its two-three zone and pick up the perimeter.

“The first five minutes we played hard when we went out there,” Hayden said. “We just had a lot of energy ready to play because of our families being here.”

Hayden was the second leading scorer for Baylor with 10 followed by sophomore Odyssey Sims with eight.

Everyone on the bench got playing time for the Lady Bears, adding 17 points.

“I tried to get each of them a look tonight,” Mulkey said. “I did something for Ashley (Field), Suni (Agbuke), and Makenzie (Robertson). Lindsay (Palmer), maybe not, but she has the ball in her hands every time. I tried to get them all a look.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Baylor continued to hold its opponent to under 50 percent shooting from the floor.

One main concern defensively was shutting down Kansas junior Carolyn Davis, who scored 34 points in her previous game against Texas Tech.

She recorded 12 on the evening, followed by junior Angel Goodrich with 10.

Led by Sims and Kimetria Hayden with three each, the Lady Bears had 11 steals for the game with 21 points off of turnovers.

With 50 percent shooting from the floor, 46 boards, 11 turnovers and steals, 19 assists and 54 points coming from the paint, the stat lines look good for the Lady Bears; however, Mulkey knows not to settle.

“Right now we are playing well,” Mulkey said. “It’s very obvious from the defensive end. I don’t know how many games it has been that we have held our opponents’ field goal percentage very low. I said to them after the game that they need to stay focused.

“Fans have to stay into it too. I look up and the fans are dead out there at the 10-minute mark. They were sitting in those seats, which I’m appreciative of, but we have got to stay focused. We can’t become complacent. While we are so proud of our 21 wins, we still haven’t won a championship.”

Baylor will hit the road to take on Missouri, who is winless in conference play, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.