WACO (AP) – Brittney Griner scored 24 points and top-ranked Baylor opened defense of its undefeated national championship with its 41st consecutive victory, 80-34 over Lamar on Friday.
Baylor charged out to a 10-point lead less than 4 minutes into the game, going up 13-3 on a 3-pointer by point guard Odyssey Sims, who like the 6-foot-8 Griner was a preseason All-American.
Griner missed the first shot of her senior season, but Brooklyn Pope grabbed the rebound and put Baylor ahead to stay with her putback basket.
Griner finished 10-of-17 shooting and got her 24 points in 18 minutes, less than a full half on the court, for her 81st consecutive double-figure scoring game. She also had five rebounds and two blocked shots, increasing her Big 12 record to 601 and getting within 62 of the NCAA mark.
Sims had 11 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals with only one turnover in her 29 minutes.
Kalis Loyd had 11 points to lead Lamar, which for the second year in a row opened its season on the road against the defending national champ. Loyd scored only one point after halftime.
Loyd had 20 points last November when the Lady Cardinals opened with an 83-58 loss at Texas A&M before going on to have their fifth consecutive winning season under coach Larry Tidwell.
Coach Kim Mulkey returned all five starters from Baylor’s championship team, and four other letter winners. The Lady Bears also have a talented group of five freshmen, though touted guard Alexis Prince is sidelined with a stress reaction in her foot.
With much tougher games upcoming quickly, Mulkey used 12 different players, trying some different combinations and getting extra time on the court for the non-starters. Sims’ 29 minutes were the most, and 10 players were on the court at least 10 minutes.
The Lady Bears will get stiffer challenges in their next two games _ Tuesday at home against No. 6 Kentucky before playing fourth-ranked Stanford in Hawaii next Friday.
Already with a 40-25 halftime lead, Griner had an inside layup and a short jumper as the Lady Bears opened the second half with a 10-0 run. In that 4-minute spurt, Lamar had four turnovers and missed its only three shots.
Baylor stretched the lead to 58-29 with 13 minutes left after Brooklyn Pope scored inside and Destiny Williams drove for a layup after a steal.
During one short segment before they came out of the game for good, Sims had a pass to Griner for a finger-roll layup to make it 64-32 with 9 minutes left. Then Griner blocked a shot before another impressive offensive move, spinning around one defender and scoring despite contact by another.
Jordan Madden added 10 points for Baylor, which has also won 41 consecutive home games. That is second to Stanford’s string of 79 victories in a row at home.
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