By Parmida Schahhosseini
The No 1. Lady Bears played with a chip on their shoulder in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game after a sloppy game against Oklahoma State on Sunday. Baylor responded in dominating fashion as they went on to win the Big 12 Championship for the third consecutive year after defeating No. 23 Iowa State 75-47.
Three Baylor players were named to the Big 12 All-Tournament team with senior post Brittney Griner being named Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. Senior forward Destiny Williams and junior guard Odyssey Sims were the other two players honored.
Griner led the team with 31 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. She hit some contested shots, including one with the shot clock winding down. Sims contributed by scoring 20 points to along with three assists and three steals. The duo combined for 22-26 shooting as they fed off the energy from the crowd.
“We came out, just clicking you know, and it showed throughout the game in the first half. And we came out in the second half still doing the same thing we did in the first,” Griner said.
The defense tightened up as they forced Iowa State to commit 20 turnovers. Baylor turned up pressure inside the paint, making the opposing team hesitant to attack.
Iowa State started the game with a 3-point shot from senior center Anna Prins, but senior guard Jordan Madden responded with a 3-point jumper. Griner followed with a field goal inside the paint as she leaned back after getting an offensive rebound. However, Iowa State responded with another 3-point score.
Baylor went on an 18-0 run which was sparked by back-to-back field goals from Griner and a 3-point jumper from Madden. Baylor also turned up the pressure defensively, forcing Iowa State to commit turnovers.
“We’re picking it up. Coach [Mulkey] is staying on us everyday in practice, reminding us that it starts with me and trickles down,” Sims said. “When I don’t play defense, when I don’t pressure the ball, everyone else doesn’t do their job, so I’m trying to do a better job of just staying focused and pressuring the ball more, and getting my team more focused to play defense.”
After being scoreless for nearly eight minutes, Iowa State finally got a layup and a 3-point jumper. However, Baylor responded with a 17-2 run to end the half.
Iowa State made adjustments in the second half to score more, but the gap was too much to overcome as Baylor continued to score.
Sims was feeling it as she hit back-to-back-to-back 3-point jumpers with a smile on her face to start the second half, firing up the Baylor crowd. Sims also scored a layup after a fast break and got fouled for another 3-point play.
“Odyssey shared the basketball probably more this year than she has in her whole career,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Her assist-to-turnover ratio is off the charts, and then when you look at a kid that works that hard on the defensive end of the floor, it’s good to see her having an offensive production like that and shoot the ball well.”
Prins, who was also on the Big 12 All-Tournament Team, scored back-to-back layups, including one with Griner’s hand in her face. She also had key 3-point shots, but the gap was too much for them to overcome.
Baylor’s bench contributed with eight points from senior forward Destiny Williams. In the remaining seconds of the game, freshman guard Niya Johnson got the crowd roaring with a 3-point shot. Baylor commanded both ends of the floor. It was that kind of night for the Lady Bears.