By Parmida Schahhosseini
The No. 1 Lady Bears defeated Kansas State 80-47 Saturday in the American Airline Center after a dominant defensive performance. Senior forward Destiny Williams led the team in scoring with 20 points and added seven rebounds. Senior post Brittney Griner was one assist short from a triple-double with 19 points, a career-high nine rebounds and 13 rebounds.
Williams had a productive night, responding every time Kansas State tried to make a run. After scoring its third field goal, Kansas State tried to go on a run, but a layup off the glass from Williams allowed Baylor to go on a mini run of its own.
Baylor made a statement as it dominated both ends of the floor with physicality and speed. Baylor put pressure on Kansas State by disrupting its offense and forcing the Wildcats to hold on to the ball more. Kansas State had trouble hitting 3-pointers because it couldn’t get set on offense. The Wildcats didn’t reach a double-digit score until the 5:37 mark in the first half because of difficulty spreading the floor.
“K-State is a very good 3-point shooting team,” junior guard Odyssey Sims said. “We know they shoot a lot of threes. Most of their field goals are threes, so we just tried to do the best we could as defending them. As coach told us in the locker room, she said they’re going to hit threes. We just tried to cut down and not let them make as many as they did last time when we played them senior night.”
The Lady Bears’ offense started fast, setting the tone for the game. Baylor started on a 31-6 run which began by a 3-point jumper from senior guard Kimetria Hayden. Griner quickly followed with a 2-point jumper, but the Wildcats responded with a 3-pointer. Baylor went on to score the next 21 points after a layup from senior guard Jordan Madden.
Baylor finished the game with 29 assists. The Lady Bears lead the country in assists, and the passing was on display after a great ball from Sims to freshman guard Alexis Prince for a shot. Despite the star power on their roster, each player knows her role.
“They came to Baylor four years ago to win a championship,” Head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Every one of them knew who was coming. They didn’t go somewhere else because they were afraid of minutes being taken away. They’re going to leave Baylor with the best record, wins and losses, of any team I’ve ever coached. They’re going to leave with a 40-0 record. They’re going to have a possibility to win another Championship.”
While Griner didn’t score 50 points like she did last time the Lady Bears took on K-State, she didn’t let any Kansas State players penetrate. She tightened up her defense and frazzled Kansas State. Griner’s presence led to hesitation and prevented Kansas State from attacking the paint.
Instead of defending Griner one on one, the Kansas State defense double and triple-teamed her, allowing other plays to get open.
“They didn’t play Brittney one on one like they did at home,” Williams said. “They triple teamed her, they double teamed her and I thought that we did a great job by feeding off of her and she did a great job at passing us the ball when we were open. I thought that gave us energy, starting with Nae-Nae making a three and we had great intensity on defense, which allowed our offense to be good.”
Despite improving in the second half, Kansas State couldn’t overcome the huge deficit. Kansas State began shooting higher-percentage shots and got clean looks for layups, but Baylor continued to score. The Kansas State defense didn’t have any answers.
“I’m proud of how we competed in the second half,” Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson said. “I thought we continued to fight hard. [We] just didn’t have enough play-making today to be able to get the job done.”
Kansas State’s guard Brittany Chambers was the only player to score in double figures with 21, but there was a drop off with the remaining players. Kansas State was held to 29.1 percent shooting on the day.
Baylor will next take on Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. Sunday.