By Krista Pirtle
As “Big 12” chants echoed through the Ferrell Center Saturday, the No. 1 Lady Bears bid adieu to the No. 14 Texas A&M Aggies from Waco, winning 71-48.
“We had a lot of time to prepare for the game and the hard thing is just to stay focused in practice,” junior Brittney Griner said. “We stay motivated and forgot what happened in Dallas [last season]. We came out here and we played as hard as we could until the end.”
Griner was four blocks short of a triple double, recording 21 points and 10 boards.
In other words, she had a typical Griner outing.
“A lot of times the key to beating Baylor, and I always put seven keys up on the board, is the key itself,” Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair said. “Lock Griner in the bathroom and don’t let her out. That’s the key. I tried like heck, I sweet-talked her, but she just comes up. That kid is special; she is just such a good kid. She deserves all the accolades that she’s getting.”
Three other Lady Bears clad in the Nike platinum uniforms scored in double digits as well: sophomore Odyssey Sims with 19 and juniors Nae Nae Hayden and Brooklyn Pope with 10 each.
As the Baylor opening video played and head coach Kim Mulkey’s words of a national title rang through the Ferrell Center, the 10,627 people in attendance made their presence known to the defending national champs.
As Mulkey says in the video Baylor has some unfinished business this season.
“I thought the crowd was unbelievable,” Mulkey said. “I thought the Nike uniforms were just awesome. I thought the fans wearing the T-shirts, were just neat.”
With the crowd on its feet the Lady Bears scored first on an and-1 basket from Griner and never looked back, going on a 17-2 run.
“We didn’t want a repeat of last time,” Griner said.
The second half opened with a 6-0 run by the Aggies but was held off by Baylor.
Baylor took advantage of the worst three-point defensive team, sinking four behind the arch, three by Sims. In the paint, however, the Aggies did not seem to have an answer for Griner, or the 18 offensive boards the Lady Bears pulled down.
While Texas A&M pulled down 19 offensive rebounds of their own, Baylor won the battle of the boards with 46 total. Baylor had 44 points in the paint to A&M’s 22 and 17 second-chance points.
The Lady Bears’ defense was as aggressive as ever with six steals and 16 points off turnovers.
“You saw why they’re the No. 1 team in the country by their defense,” Blair said.
The defense was more than just pesky ball pressure on the point guard and the arms of Griner waving in the paint; wing defense was critical in shutting down the Aggie offense.
“I thought our perimeter defense was outstanding,” Mulkey said.
The Lady Bears will travel to College Station for the final time in the foreseeable future Feb. 27.
Next on the schedule for the Lady Bears is Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Stillwater, Okla.