Griner leads No. 1 Baylor in blowout of K-State

CORRECTS BY REMOVING SECOND SENTENCE - Baylor center Brittney Griner (42) rebounds over Kansas State forward Branshea Brown during the first half of a women's NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
No. 42 post Brittney Griner rebounds over Kansas State No. 34 forward Branshea Brown during the first half of the Wildcats' home game on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
Associated Press

By Dave Skretta
Associated Press Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has no idea how to stop Brittney Griner. Fortunately for Mulkey, she doesn’t have to come up with a scheme to stop the talented forward.

Griner had 29 points and the top-ranked Lady Bears kept their perfect season intact with a 70-41 rout of Kansas State on Saturday night.

“I’m glad she’s on my team,” Mulkey said. “I wouldn’t know how to guard her.”

Destiny Williams added 14 points and Odyssey Sims finished with 13 for Baylor (23-0, 10-0 Big 12), which extended the best start in school history in easy fashion.

It’s the second-best start in conference history behind former member Nebraska, which won its first 30 games during the 2009-10 season. No. 10 Green Bay is still the only other Division I women’s program that has yet to lose this season.

“I knew what I needed to do to help my team win,” Griner said. “They did a great job of getting me the ball when I was hot.”

Brittany Chambers had 10 points for Kansas State (15-7, 6-3), though she was just 3 of 11 from the field. Mariah White also had 10 points.

“We haven’t played Baylor as tough as we’d like to,” Chambers said. “They’re an unbelievable team, but we’d like to see more toughness out of us.”

The 6-foot-8 Griner has been a menace all season against smaller teams, coupling her height advantage with a deft touch around the basket, and that played out again Saturday night.

The league’s leading scorer pushed her career total to 2,020, making her the fourth player in school history to eclipse 2,000 points. Griner also became the first player in Division I women’s basketball to break that barrier while also recording at least 500 rebounds.

“She works extremely hard,” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “I don’t think we were consistently effective in our decision-making with her, any one of us, and that hurt us.”

The Wildcats’ plan seemed to be the exact opposite of every other team to face Baylor this season: force Griner to beat them by denying everyone else a shot.

It was working early on, too.

Baylor’s offense looked disjointed and at times downright inept. By the time Chambers hit a 3-pointer with 8:25 left in the first half, the plucky Wildcats had a 19-13 lead.

“Offensive rebounding was very good for Kansas State early in the game,” Mulkey said. “We just didn’t do a good job of blocking out and consequently I went with a bigger lineup.”

That lineup got the Lady Bears got on track. Griner scored with 8:01 remaining, the start of what turned out to be a 20-5 run into halftime.

Williams converted a pair of three-point plays 90 seconds apart, then added another bucket a couple minutes later. Sims added a basket as the half wound down, silencing a sellout crowd that had taken advantage of dollar tickets to see the game at Bramlage Coliseum.

Griner had 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the first half.

She added two more points less than a minute into the second half, and Baylor began pouring on the offense with the kind of play that’s become familiar to folks in the Big 12.

The Lady Bears scored the first six points out of halftime, and after White and Branshea Brown managed baskets for Kansas State, Baylor scored 10 more. Griner had four during the 5-minute spurt, and Sims hit a 3-pointer and Williams a jumper for a 53-28 lead.

Patterson hardly had enough timeouts to slow the momentum.

“As the second half started, we never really shook loose offensively,” she said. “That’s probably the biggest disappointed to me leaving the floor. I feel like we wasted 20 minutes of offensive opportunities.”

Baylor put it on cruise control the final 10 minutes, well on its way to another blowout win over Kansas State. The Wildcats have dropped 13 straight to Baylor, including a 76-41 defeat last month in Waco. Their last win in the series came on Jan. 27, 2004.

Kansas State also has lost all five of its games against No. 1 teams in Manhattan, though Baylor’s trip was the first since top-ranked Wayland Baptist visited on Jan. 11, 1977.

“This was a game I felt unlike any of our recent games against Baylor, where after the first half we had positioned ourselves to be competitive, you know?” Patterson said. “We sort of dropped our shoulders and got soft.”