Griner Leads Lady Bears Past WVU 80-49
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Her fifth career triple-double did little to coax some excitement out of Brittney Griner. Not when there’s still a month left in top-ranked Baylor’s pursuit of a second straight national championship.
The largest crowd ever for a women’s game at West Virginia saw Griner finish with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, and the Lady Bears built a big early lead in defeating the Mountaineers 80-49 on Saturday night.
Individual accomplishments mean little to the most dominant player in women’s college basketball.
“Nah, I’ll do that after I’m done with my college career,” Griner said.
It was Griner’s first triple-double since November 2010. It tied her with Kansas State’s Shalee Lehning (2006-09) for the most in conference history.
“She brings it like that every day, guys,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “That’s what makes her special. When I go to practice, I just know if I see Brittney, it makes our practice because she’s just that kind of kid. She’s not a prima donna, she just works.”
In the earlier meeting this season in Waco, Texas, Griner finished one blocked shot shy of a triple-double.
She got it this time with more than 5 minutes left in the game.
“My teammates found me, and got me the ball,” Griner said. “And then I was just aggressive getting rebounds and getting blocks.”
On Monday night, Baylor will try to become the first Big 12 school to finish undefeated in women’s conference play twice, having done it last season. The Lady Bears will take a 26-game winning streak into their regular-season finale at home against Kansas State. The Big 12 tournament is next weekend.
Shortly before tipoff, just as he does every home game, West Virginia’s buckskin-wearing mascot fired his musket at midcourt, startling everyone on Baylor’s bench.
During the game, it was West Virginia that looked frazzled.
Baylor (28-1, 17-0 Big 12) never trailed. The Lady Bears scored the first 14 points of the game and built a 38-22 halftime lead.
“I thought we played scared in the beginning,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey.
Despite falling behind by as many as 20 points in the first half, West Virginia trimmed the deficit to single digits. A 10-2 run, capped by Christal Caldwell’s basket, brought the Mountaineers within 42-34 with 17:27 left in the game. That’s as close as West Virginia got.
Just as quickly, Baylor pulled away. Griner’s jumper started a 15-3 run that put the Lady Bears ahead 57-37 with 12:27 remaining.
Griner’s rebound with 5:22 left gave her the triple double, and her ensuing basket gave Baylor a 70-44 lead.
West Virginia had hoped to get Griner into foul trouble, but she didn’t pick up her third foul until there was 5:38 left in the game and she went to the bench for good a short time later.
West Virginia tied its lowest point total of the season. The Mountaineers attempted 21 more field goals than Baylor but shot just 22.5 percent from the floor.
“I thought tonight, from the tip, we guarded West Virginia,” Mulkey said. “We talk a lot about what we do on the offensive end of the floor, I don’t think people talk enough about what we do on the defensive end of the floor.”
West Virginia had hoped somehow to keep pace with the nation’s second-best scoring offense by moving center Ayana Dunning, who is 5 inches shorter than Griner, to the outside. But Dunning, in her final home game, made 2 of 7 3-point tries and finished with nine points.
Christal Caldwell scored 14 points to lead West Virginia (17-11, 9-8), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
Odyssey Sims added 10 points for Baylor.
Griner got off to a slow start by her standards, but Baylor didn’t.
While West Virginia missed its first seven shots, Baylor took control from the opening tip and raced to a 38-22 halftime lead.
Griner did score the game’s first basket, then didn’t score again until the 12:38 mark. She had 16 points, four rebounds and four blocks by halftime, then turned up the tempo on defense in the second half.
A record crowd of 13,447 watched the Mountaineers fall to 0-5 all-time against top-ranked teams at home. It broke the previous mark of 8,307 set against DePaul in 2008. West Virginia entered the game with the lowest average home attendance in the Big 12 at 1,894.
“That crowd needs to be out here for every game, not just when Baylor comes to town, because that’s good,” Mulkey said. “That’s healthy for West Virginia, that’s healthy for the Big 12, that’s healthy for our sport. And we love that. “
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