Lady Bears Beat Iowa State In Big 12 Title Game
DALLAS (AP) — Brittney Griner and top-ranked Baylor can now turn their attention to again winning the biggest prize.
Griner scored 31 points and the defending national champion Lady Bears won their third consecutive Big 12 tournament championship, rolling past No. 23 Iowa State 75-47 Monday night.
In a matchup of the Big 12’s top two seeds, the Lady Bears (32-1) and their 6-foot-8 senior star easily earned another trophy in their dominating run through the Big 12.
Griner, already a two-time All-American, had 23 points by halftime, outscoring Iowa State by 10 points on her own.
Odyssey Sims added 20 points for Baylor, including three 3-pointers in the first 4 minutes after halftime.
Anna Prins had 20 points and Nikki Moody 12 for the Cyclones (23-8) in their first Big 12 title game since 2007.
Iowa State got off to a good start with Prins making a 3-pointer on its opening attempt before another long-range shot by Hallie Christofferson for a 6-5 lead. But the Cyclones then went more than 8 minutes without scoring, a span in which they missed six shots and had eight turnovers while Baylor scored 19 points in a row for a double-digit lead that only got bigger.
Baylor had the lead for good on Griner’s putback after she grabbed the rebound of her only missed shot of the first half. Griner was 11 of 12 from the field before halftime.
The Lady Bears were up 41-13 at the break, holding Iowa State to the fewest points ever in a single half of a Big 12 tournament championship game.
Along with the last three Big 12 tournament titles, the Lady Bears have gone undefeated through the league the last two regular seasons for a 49-game conference winning streak. Their fifth Big 12 tournament title — all coming in a stretch that began in 2005, the year of their first national title — broke a tie with Oklahoma for the most in the league.
Baylor will surely be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and will play its first games in two weeks on the Waco campus, where they Lady Bears have won a nation-best 55 games in a row. They have won 30 straight overall since losing against Stanford at a tournament in Hawaii a week into the season.
Griner finished 14 of 17 shooting and had as many field goals as Iowa State’s entire team when she came out of the game for good with 4:12 left.
When Griner got near the Baylor bench, she shared a long hug with coach Kim Mulkey while getting a large ovation from the crowd with the game being played only about 100 miles from the Baylor campus.
Prins was coming off a career-high 32 points Sunday in the Cyclones’ 79-60 semifinal victory over Oklahoma.
Baylor had a much tougher semifinal matchup, holding on for a 77-69 victory over Oklahoma State, which was within three in the final minute after the Lady Bears had 18 of their season-high 24 turnovers after halftime. While they never trailed, it was their only game against a Big 12 opponent this season decided by less than 10 points.
The championship game was more like the kind of games Baylor has had in its Big 12 run, a lopsided score with Griner playing a big part.
Sims, the junior All-American point guard and only non-senior in the Baylor starting lineup, responded emphatically after a making a trio of 3-pointers in the second half.
There was a huge fist pump after one of them, then after sinking her third from in front of the Baylor bench, Sims reached down and patted the floor. That put the Lady Bears up 50-18 and Iowa State called time out.
Mulkey enthusiastically put her arms around Sims and patted the point guard on the back.
By then, the trophy was practically in the Lady Bears’ hands.