No. 2 Baylor too much for Tennessee
The Associated Press
WACO, Texas -- Brittney Griner and No. 2 Baylor were too big of an obstacle for No. 6 Tennessee.
Griner had 21 points, nine blocks and disrupted nearly everything the Lady Vols wanted to do, lifting the Lady Bears to a 65-54 victory Tuesday night in a game that was rarely even close.
Playing before a crowd of 10,569 - the most ever for a basketball game at Baylor, men's or women's -- the Lady Bears (10-1) never trailed. They broke it open for good with an 11-0 run to close the first half and led by as many as 15 points.
Tennessee (9-2) never got closer than seven points in the second half.
Odyssey Sims led Baylor with 24 points. She scored 14 in the second half, while Griner had only five. Melissa Jones scored eight points, Brooklyn Pope and Kimetria Hayden both had six and Pope had four blocks and nine rebounds.
Meighan Simmons led the Lady Vols with 22 points and Angie Bjorklund had 10. No one else had more than five. Tennessee shot only 25 percent from the field.
Fans lined up more than three hours before tipoff, excited by the matchup and lured by free bobbleheads of coach Kim Mulkey. Griner gave them plenty to shout about from the start.
The 6-foot-8 center had 16 points and six blocks by halftime. The Lady Vols had only eight field goals at the break, their accuracy snuffed by the shots she swatted and those she altered.
Part of her inspiration was seeing the majority of the football team sitting behind the basket Baylor defended that half. She growled toward them a few times, sometimes flashing a smile and a little wave in their direction. Star quarterback Robert Griffin and all-conference safety Byron Landor swept the court during one break, with Griffin taking a microphone and firing everyone up by saying, "We're here to support the Lady Bears. We know you're here to support the Lady Bears. This is our house!"
Griner shot a few glances toward the guys during the second half, too, when Baylor was shooting at that basket. Things weren't all that intense, though, because Tennessee could never mount much of a rally.
The Lady Bears simply cruised to their second straight victory over one of the premier programs in women's college basketball, another reminder of what a force they have become. Their only loss was by one point at No. 1 Connecticut.
Tennessee's only other loss was by 11 to Georgetown, which is now No. 20.
At game's end, Mulkey got the microphone and told the crowd, "Thanks for doing this. ... Football team, go win a bowl game. Thank you!"