By Krista Pirtle
Junior Brittney Griner notched a career-high 41 points Saturday against Iowa State, leading the Lady Bears to a 77-53 victory at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor went undefeated in conference play, and its 31-0 record is the best in program history.
“It’s an honor, but it really doesn’t mean anything until you win a national championship,” junior Destiny Williams said. “I think we’ll all be pretty proud of that. Give ourselves credit for working hard and not allowing our opponents to make as many shots to come away with a win. It’s a work in progress and there are things we have to correct, but it’s an honor and something we would love take along the way.”
Head coach Kim Mulkey was voted as Big 12 Coach of the Year.
The Lady Bears will now head to the Big 12 Tournament beginning Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., where they hold the top seed. Winning this tournament is second on Baylor’s bucket list for this season.
“Never do you ever think that you are going to go undefeated,” Mulkey said. “You just can’t think like that because there are too many good teams. But if you reflect on it today, these guys that you get to coach … wow. It’s hard to go through the kind of schedule we went through and maintain your focus, maintain the excitement for the game, take everyone’s best shot, and still win a basketball game. That’s pretty uncommon. We’re pretty appreciative of it. It’s on the backburner now. We’re going to try to win three games in the Big 12 tournament, but we’re focusing on those last six.”
For Iowa State, junior Anna Prins led her team coming off the bench with 17 points, going 4 for 8 from downtown.
Griner missed only three shots on the afternoon.
“She just keeps getting better,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “I think that’s to her credit and to the coaches. She’s not just a tall kid. She’s a basketball player, a great basketball player. Her footwork is good. Her timing is good. Look at how many post players in this country have more assists than turnovers. That’s unheard of in the women’s game.”
Fennelly said he knew Griner would produce monstrous numbers so he had his team focus on containing Williams.
Missing only two shots, Williams recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
From tipoff to halftime, the game was played at Iowa State’s tempo, allowing the Cyclones to work deep in the shot clock and hit seven treys.
Then with 17 minutes left in the game, Baylor went to a 2-2-1-zone full court press, immediately resulting in back-to-back turnovers.
“I’m going to give my assistant coaches credit for that,” Mulkey said. “They kept bugging me the first half to do it, and being hard-headed or stubborn I didn’t do it. I also didn’t do it at the start of the second half. Then I had them in my ear wanting to change the pace of the game, and it was a great decision. We were playing at Iowa State’s pace as they were hitting threes all over the floor and penetrating.”
From then on the Lady Bears finished on a 39-13 run.