Lady Bears Topple West Virginia 76-58
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WACO (AP) - Brittney Griner did a little dance before leaving the court. The two-time All-American is having a blast in her senior season at Baylor.
Griner had her 50th career double-double while just missing a triple-double, scoring 26 points with 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots, as the top-ranked Lady Bears beat Big 12 newcomer West Virginia 76-58 on Saturday night.
When asked if she knew she was that close to a triple-double, Griner responded, “No, not until they told me. I’m never really aware of that.”
It certainly didn’t change her festive mood. After the game ended, before going to the locker room, the 6-foot-8 Griner stopped behind the Baylor song leaders and, minus the pom-poms, danced along with them as the band played.
Odyssey Sims had 15 points and seven assists for Baylor (16-1, 6-0 Big 12), which won its record 28th consecutive regular season conference game. The Lady Bears have also won 49 games in a row at the Ferrell Center, the nation’s longest active home winning streak.
Griner appeared to have her 10th block at one point but officials whistled West Virginia for a travel on the play. She didn’t play the final 4 minutes, but certainly liked being challenged inside when she was in the game.
“I love it,” Griner said. “Most teams don’t get inside to their posts against me. So when they do, I take advantage of it.”
Christal Caldwell led West Virginia (11-6, 3-3) with 22 points. Taylor Palmer scored 17, and Crystal Leary had 11 rebounds.
After West Virginia got a 3-pointer from Palmer 22 seconds into the game, Baylor responded with a 20-2 run and worked a season-high crowd of 10,245 into a frenzy. Griner had 10 points in that streak, and Sims had eight with two three-point plays.
“New team in the league, I think we’re all excited to play somebody that we haven’t seen,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “Of course, we saw them in the (NCAA tournament) two years ago. I thought the crowd was great. I thought when we started the game, I thought we were focused and I thought we were ready to play.”
By the first media timeout only 5 minutes into the game, the Lady Bears had already surged ahead 15-5 and West Virginia has as many turnovers as points.
Griner, who finished 11-of-17 shooting, had 18 points and eight rebounds by halftime, when Baylor led 40-24.
With her nine blocks, Griner increased her career total to 651, only 13 shy of breaking the NCAA career record.
“Griner, best player in the country, bar none,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. “She’s gotten better every year. .. And she’s under control at all times. As a coach, you think she’s going over somebody’s back. She’s really not. She’s jumping over them.”
Baylor’s home winning streak includes an 82-68 win over West Virginia in an NCAA tournament second-round game two years ago. Griner had 30 points and eight blocks in that game, even while sitting out the last 9 minutes of the first half after two fouls.
West Virginia ended Baylor’s big run with six points in a row in a span of 36 seconds, capped by Caldwell and Jess Harlee turning consecutive steals into breakaway baskets in only 15 seconds.
But Griner quickly responded with six points in a row of her own and by the next timeout with 8 minutes left in the first half, Griner already had 16 points — one more than West Virginia at the time, when Baylor led 26-15.
The Mountaineers had won three in a row since opening their first Big 12 schedule with losses against Oklahoma and Kansas.
Ayana Dunning, who was averaging 10.8 points a game for West Virginia, finished scoreless with four fouls in 23 minutes. She was 0-for-8 shooting, including five from 3-point range.
West Virginia sophomore guard Akilah Bethel was carried off the court with just more than 2 minutes to go. She grabbed her left knee after falling to the floor on a drive to the basket, but the extent of her injury wasn’t known since Carey didn’t address it after the game.
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