By Krista Pirtle
Stanford wanted its shot at No. 1 Baylor all season long, and they got it.
The Lady Bears defeated the Cardinal 59-47 to advance to the National Championship.
Senior Terran Condrey and junior Brittney Griner led Baylor with 13 points each.
“[Terran] has been hitting big shots all season,” sophomore Odyssey Sims said. “She’s been key to us winning big games all season. She stepped up like a senior should and hit big shots for us.”
Sims followed with 11 points and junior Jordan Madden with nine.
Stanford’s defensive plan against Baylor worked well in the first half, with junior Brittney Griner only making two shots in the first half. Offensively, however, the Cardinal exploited the over-aggressive perimeter defense of Baylor. By pulling Griner away from the basket, Stanford was able to back cut its defenders for easy buckets.
“We’re not a one dimensional team,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Our team is not just Brittney Griner.”
Stanford also ran the clock down multiple times on the evening; something that senior Nneka Ogwumike said her team did not intend to do.
“We weren’t trying to run the clock down,” Ogwumike said. “Their defense is tough. Having Brittney [Griner] in there changes everybody’s game.”
The Cardinal outscored the Lady Bears in the paint 24-16, with Griner going three of nine from the floor.
Stanford also recorded five blocks to Baylor’s two.
Baylor started out slowly, something that Sims said was due to nerves.
“We turned down the first look,” Mulkey said.
However, the Lady Bears held the Cardinal to 33 percent shooting from the floor and 11 percent from downtown. Junior Joslyn Tinkle had hit 62 percent behind the arch throughout the NCAA tournament, but she did not hit any tonight, finishing with only two points.
Ogwumike finished her time at Stanford strongly, with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, fouled out of the ballgame at the 7:58 mark, recording only four points and rebounds each.
Despite the poor shooting performance in the first half, Baylor is a team fueled by its performance on the defensive end of the court, stealing the ball four times and scoring 13 points off the Cardinal’s turnovers.
The charity stripe helped seal the deal with 19 of 26 for the Lady Bears; Stanford was only five of seven.
This game was slotted to be a battle of the boards, one that was dead even at the half. Both teams had six offensive and 14 defensive rebounds, each scoring a second chance bucket. In the second half, Baylor took charge of the boards with seven offensive and fifteen defensive, totaling 42 to Stanford’s 34.
The key to this victory was keeping the Cardinal off the offensive glass.
With the game being played in Denver, Colo., the altitude was a concern for the endurance of the teams.
“I think the altitude is terrible,” Condrey said.
The Lady Bears will have to play in the altitude for 40 more minutes to take care of their unfinished business.
“It feels great that we’re going to play Tuesday,” Sims said. “But then again we haven’t done anything yet.”