DALLAS (AP) — Brittney Griner strolled up the court with coach Kim Mulkey hollering from the sideline: “Score first, pass second.”
Griner was just in a passing sort of mood Saturday.
The 6-foot-8 star barely missed her second triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high nine assists, and No. 1 Baylor built a quick 25-point lead in a dominating 80-47 victory against Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 women’s tournament.
Griner’s effort came five days after she scored a Big 12-record 50 points and had a dunk in a win over the Wildcats in her final regular-season home game.
“I’m telling you, I’m a point guard by heart,” said Griner, whose previous triple double came on points, rebounds and blocks. “My freshman year, I had a lot of turnovers, so my assists weren’t really too good. But now my teammates do a great job of cutting and letting me find them.”
Mulkey’s instructions came after a turnover by Griner less than 4 minutes into the game. Griner immediately scored on the other end, and that was her only turnover and one of just five for the Lady Bears (30-1), the defending national champions who clinched a third straight season of at least 30 wins.
“I just thought she was being passive more than aggressive,” Mulkey said. “The pass will come. You saw that with nine assists.”
Kansas State (15-17) was within three points well into the second half of last weekend’s loss in Waco, but this time the Wildcats were down 21-3 just 7 minutes in when coach Deb Patterson called her third timeout.
Patterson ended up using all four 30-second timeouts in the first 11 minutes, the last when Odyssey Sims hit a short jumper after a turnover for a 31-6 lead.
“It was a game in which you wished you had 10 timeouts, if you could use five in each half to break the tempo a little bit, especially early” Patterson said. “They came out of the chute so hard.”
The Lady Bears, who will play Oklahoma State in the semifinals Sunday, repeatedly got easy buckets inside and out while shooting 68 percent in the first half and 58 for the game. When Griner wasn’t scoring herself, she usually found Destiny Williams, who led Baylor with a season-high 20 points.
Griner had almost as many assists (seven) as points (eight) before halftime and ended up beating her previous career high of seven set last month against Oklahoma State.
“They didn’t play Brittney one-on-one like they did at home,” Williams said. “I thought we did a great job of feeding off her. She did a great job of passing us the ball when we were open.”
The Wildcats didn’t have a two-point basket before halftime, when Baylor led 45-18 after outscoring Kansas State 30-0 in the paint. Kansas State had five 3-pointers while going 0 of 9 from inside the arc in the first half. The Wildcats shot 29 percent for the game, and 12 of their 16 baskets were from long range.
Brittany Chambers led Kansas State with 21 points, but they all came in the second half with the outcome already decided. The Wildcats’ leading scorer was 0 of 6 from the field before halftime.
“We let them attack us in every aspect of the game, and were very passive,” Chambers said. “Not taking open shots when we had them, but we really didn’t get a ton of open ones because we weren’t creating them for ourselves.”
Kansas State tried to challenge Griner a few times early, but that just meant she had three blocks over a 3-minute stretch. The Wildcats finally got their first two-point basket on a layup by Chambers with 16 minutes left in the game.
The Wildcats had two shot-clock violations in the first 6 minutes, including one after Griner emphatically stuffed a layup attempt on a drive by Chambers.
Mulkey said the defense was a lot better Saturday than it was five days ago in Waco.
“Yeah, you won by 22 and Griner got 50 and she dunked. It was a sold-out arena,” Mulkey said. “But truly, if you want to be really good, you’ve got to be better defensively. I thought they listened to the scout report. They listened in the film. It was fun to see that today.”
About the only noise coming from the Kansas State bench was a loud countdown each time the shot clock was about to expire. When those possessions didn’t end in violations, the Wildcats were throwing up wild shots that had little chance to go in.
“The first 20 minutes, it was like that perfect storm almost,” Patterson said. “We were out there in the middle of the ocean, and all of a sudden … it’s like, `Oh, my goodness.’ They really had us swamped under.”
Sims limped around for part of the first half, eventually leaving and taking off her left shoe on the bench. She returned a few minutes later and said after the game it was a sprained ankle that wouldn’t be a problem. She finished with 10 points and seven assists.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)