29-0: No. 1 Lady Bears rock Jayhawks, 76-45

No. 42 post Brittney Griner drives past Kansas No. 5 forward Bunny Williams during the second half of Friday night's game in Lawrence, Kan. Griner led all players with 20 points, eight defensive rebounds and four blocks.
Associated Press

By Dave Skretta
Associated Press Sports Writer

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kim Mulkey chose her words carefully Friday night, the Baylor coach trying her best to answer truthfully without her response coming off as demeaning toward Kansas.

Yes, Mulkey said, there are still things the Lady Bears can do better.

It’s just hard to notice them during a 76-45 blowout.

“I can probably give you a bunch of things we have to work on, but it’s not something that’s going to be necessarily exposed in tonight’s game,” Mulkey said. “You mainly want to make sure you get your rotation enough minutes to stay in shape and get them off the floor.”

In that respect, Baylor’s trip to Allen Fieldhouse was a success.

Star forward Brittney Griner scored 20 points in just 28 minutes. Kimetria Hayden added 16 points and Odyssey Sims had 15 as nine Lady Bears (29-0, 16-0 Big 12) logged at least 10 minutes each.

“Late in the year it’s important when you can rest players,” Mulkey said, “and we’ve been able to do that a lot of late.”

Baylor shot 57.4 percent from the field, had a 42-33 rebounding advantage and was never in danger against Kansas, though most of that had to do with its defense.

The Jayhawks shot just 26.9 percent from the field, missing 14 of their first 15 shots.

“I don’t think we’re going through the motions at all,” said Griner, who also had eight rebounds and four blocks. “We want to finish it out strong.”

Angel Goodrich led Kansas (18-10, 7-9) with 14 points, going 5 of 19 from the field. Second-leading scorer Aishah Sutherland was held to two points on 1-for-15 shooting.

“They are who they are, and they did what they’re capable of doing defensively,” said Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson, whose team sits squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble.

“Offensively we were a mess,” she said.

Any chance of the Jayhawks sticking with Baylor was lost in the opening minutes.

Goodrich answered a basket by Griner at the 16:54 mark of the first half, but Kansas didn’t score again until the pint-sized guard hit the second of two free-throw attempts with 8:28 left.

The Jayhawks went more than 11 minutes without another field goal as the Bears slowly bullied their way to a 25-3 lead. Griner wound up with 10 points and five rebounds in the first half, but she allowed everybody else to join in the fun, too.

Sims, Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams all contributed to the big early run.

Chelsea Gardner finally ended the Jayhawks’ field-goal drought with 5:52 left in the half, and she would up pouring in eight points before halftime to get it to 33-16.

Griner promptly added a pair of free throws out of the break, Baylor latched down on defense one more time, and the Lady Bears put the game away in brutally efficient fashion.

“Our defense, if you look at NCAA stats, we’re going to be up there in field-goal percentage defense,” Mulkey said. “You’re not going to play for me if you can’t guard people.”

It was silent most of the second half inside Allen Fieldhouse, where less than 24 hours later the fourth-ranked Kansas men were to play No. 3 Missouri for the final time in the regular season.

The Lady Bears, who had already clinched their own Big 12 title, remain the lone undefeated team in Division I. They’re off to the best start in school history, winning their 104th straight game when scoring at least 70 points and improving to 70-3 when allowing 60 or fewer.

Baylor can match the 2009-10 Nebraska team for the best start in conference history on Monday night at Texas A&M. The Cornhuskers, now members of the Big Ten, won their first 30 games.

The Jayhawks have struggled mightily since losing top scorer Carolyn Davis to a devastating knee injury in the opening minutes of their game Feb. 3 at Kansas State.

They’ve lost four of their last five overall, a couple in lopsided fashion, jeopardizing their hopes for an NCAA tournament bid. Kansas hasn’t made the field since 2000.

“We have to find a way to win. We have to improve our resume. You get two more wins, we’re at 9-9 (in the Big 12), and there’s no doubt we’re in,” Henrickson said. “The most important thing is to beat Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Both of us are desperate.”