KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Top-ranked Baylor proved Saturday it has more than just Brittney Griner.
Odyssey Sims poured in a season-high 26 points to help make up for an off afternoon by her All-American teammate, and the Lady Bears rolled to a 73-50 victory over No. 23 Texas A&M in the Big 12 tournament championship game.
The Lady Bears (34-0) wrapped up their second straight title and fourth overall by beating the Aggies for the third time this year.
Baylor also beat Texas A&M to win the tournament title in 2009 and again last season, when the Aggies returned the favor in the NCAA tournament.
Sydney Carter had 12 points to lead Texas A&M (22-10), which played its third straight game without top scorer Tyra White. She’s been hampered by her left foot and coach Gary Blair elected to rest her for the NCAA tournament rather than risk any more damage against Baylor.
Baylor will head to the dance trying to make history.
With six more wins, coach Kim Mulkey’s crew will become the first team in men’s or women’s major college basketball to finish 40-0. Baylor also would become the 15th unbeaten national champ — Mulkey was part of one of those teams, Louisiana Tech, in 1981.
Griner finished with a season-low 11 points and three rebounds, while Destiny Williams had 12 points and 11 boards. Jordan Madden contributed 10 points.
The defending national champion, Texas A&M became the first school in league history to make five straight Big 12 tournament title game appearances. The Aggies won the title in 2008 and 2010, but lost to the Lady Bears in the other three games.
They still have not beaten a No. 1 team in six tries. Five have been against Baylor.
Griner had been dominant through the Lady Bears’ first two games in Kansas City, piling up a tournament-record 45 points in a semifinal victory over Kansas State. But she struggled against Texas A&M’s physical post play and was held to 3-for-8 shooting from the floor.
It didn’t matter a whole lot.
Sims took advantage of the open space caused by the collapsing defense to go 9 of 15 from the field. She also had five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The Lady Bears got off to a phenomenal start at both ends of the court.
Griner had all five of her first-half points during a 14-0 run to start the game, while the Baylor defense forced the Aggies into three turnovers and six straight misses.
Kelsy Bone finally scored inside with 14:27 left in the half for Texas A&M’s first points of the game, but Sims promptly hit a 3-pointer at the other end to make it 17-2.
Oddly enough, it was Baylor that suddenly got rattled.
Williams was hit with a technical foul for her role in a loose-ball scrum, part of a four-point trip down floor for Texas A&M. The Aggies rattled off 11 consecutive points to climb back into the game, drawing within 21-13 on a jumper by Cierra Windham.
The teams mostly traded baskets into halftime, and the 15-point lead Texas A&M spotted the defending Big 12 champs in the opening minutes wound up being the difference at the break.
Sims paced the Lady Bears with 11 points, but it was Griner’s ineffectiveness that kept Texas A&M close. She was just 2 for 5 from the field and managed two rebounds against Bone, who either fronted her in the post or physically pushed her off the block each time down floor.
It didn’t stay close for long.
Sims converted a three-point play in the opening minutes of the second half, and the Baylor juggernaut went on a 10-2 run to turn the game into a blowout. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Lady Bears’ starters had grown comfortable relaxing on the bench.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)