KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) Brittney Griner had a career-high 45 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots, leading No. 1 Baylor to an 86-65 rout of Kansas State on Friday in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.
The junior phenom finished 19 of 28 from the field to better her career scoring mark of 41 points, set in the Lady Bears’ regular-season finale against Iowa State. Her total also set the single-game record for the women’s Big 12 tournament.
Griner got a standing ovation when she checked out with just over 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
Baylor (34-0) will play Oklahoma or defending national champion Texas A&M on Saturday as it attempts to become the first program, men’s or women’s, to finish a season 40-0.
Brittney Chambers had 18 points to lead Kansas State (19-13), which has lost 14 straight to Baylor and must now await its fate with the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Destiny Williams also contributed 12 points and 14 rebounds for Baylor. JuliAnne Chisholm and Jalana Childs wound up with 11 points each for the Wildcats.
The third meeting of the year between the two teams looked much like the first two.
Griner scored the opening eight points for Baylor, and at one point midway through the first half was on pace to finish with 72, which would have shattered the women’s Division I record of 60 set by Long Beach State’s Cindy Brown in February 1987.
The 6-foot-8 junior finished with 23 in the first half, though it would have been far more had she not gone the final 5 minutes without a field goal. Kansas State finally decided to quit covering her one-on-one, collapsing three defenders on Griner in the post.
When that happened, she dropped off passes to Williams and Odyssey Sims for easy baskets.
Kansas State was still within 21-18 on a basket by Branshea Brown with 10:36 left in the first half, but Griner — who else? — scored the game’s next three baskets.
It was the start of a 16-2 run for Baylor that included eight points from Griner, Terran Condrey’s only two field goals of the half, and a jumpers by Sims and Kimetria Hayden.
By the time Sims converted a three-point play off a feed from Griner, and Williams scored on a fast break, the Lady Bears had surged to a comfortable 42-22 halftime advantage.
Just about the only thing for Kansas State fans to cheer about was country music superstar Trace Adkins delivering the national anthem, and even that excitement was somewhat subdued.
You see, Adkins is a big fan of Baylor coach Kim Mulkey from their days together at Louisiana Tech. Adkins was a freshman walk-on football player and Mulkey was the senior point guard for the reigning national champion women’s basketball team. While they never got to know each other in college, they did finally get in touch a couple months ago, striking up a friendship.
Adkins sang the national anthem before Baylor’s game earlier this year against Texas A&M, and once he finished his rendition at Municipal Auditorium, he watched the game with his arms folded and a contented expression on his face from behind the Lady Bears’ bench.
So much for giving Kansas State fans a reason to feel jazzed.
The Wildcats are left to await their fate from the NCAA tournament selection committee, which will announce the bracket Monday night. Kansas State hardly fared well in three blowout losses to Baylor, but did knock off then-No. 9 Texas A&M and then-No. 10 Texas Tech.
The Wildcats also beat Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, a team with that boasts a similar at-large resume and will also be sweating out the selection process.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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