WACO (AP) — When Odyssey Sims made her final basket about a minute before coming out of the game, the Baylor pep band started chanting “Odyssey’s winning! Odyssey’s winning!”
At the time, she really didn’t know what they meant.
Sims, the preseason AP All-American point guard and only returning starter for the ninth-ranked Lady Bears after Brittney Griner’s departure, scored 33 points and outscored Rice much of the game on her own in a 79-46 victory Monday night that extended their nation’s-best home winning streak to 60 games.
“Oh, now it makes sense,” Sims said, with a smile, after being told that the score was 64-32 at the time.
When Sims made a short basket with 9:18 left in the first half, the Lady Bears led 23-14 and Sims already had 15 points — one more than Rice at the time. That was also the end of a span when she scored 12 consecutive points for Baylor (3-0).
Rice (2-2) didn’t surpass Sims’ final point total until Jessica Kuster’s basket with 6:22 left made it 64-34. That was just a few seconds before Sims exited the game for good.
“How many plays can I run for her? Odyssey’s just a special player. She feeds off of her own success. But tonight, she had teammates really finding her and getting her the ball in positions to be successful,” Mulkey said. “It just tells you how much we’re going to rely on her. It tells you how much she relishes the opportunity do whatever’s asked of her.”
Baylor ran different sets when, as Mulkey put it, “One minute she’s the off-guard, the next minute she’s the point guard. I’m glad she’s on my team.”
Sims finished 12-of-23 shooting with three 3s. She had three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 30 minutes. She has scored at least 23 points in all three games this season.
“My job is to go out and lead my team, knowing I’m going to shoot the majority of the shots but at the same time not being selfish with it,” Sims said. “I do my best to lead them and not be selfish on the court. If I’m missing, I make sure I find the open player. No matter how I play, as long as my team is doing good is all that matters.”
Kuster, one of only two seniors in America that averaged a double-double in her first three seasons, had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jasmine Goodwine added 10 points.
Imani Wright had 11 points for Baylor, and Nina Davis had 10. They are among five freshmen playing for the Lady Bears.
Sims added a 3-pointer from the left wing to give her 18 points before getting a short break with Baylor up 28-14 with 6:08 left in the first half.
“Too much Odyssey, she actually outscored us … she had six more points than our whole team at halftime, so we feel good about at least our team outscoring her in the game,” Rice coach Greg Williams said. “She lived up certainly to everything that has been said about her.”
Back in the game a minute after he 3-pointer, she had a contact lens dislodged when hit on a foul. When she went to the side to get solution and put the lens back in her eye, the referees made Baylor substitute for her at the line. Makenzie Robertson made two free throws with 4:36 left.
Sims wasn’t able to get back in until the next timeout at the 3:33 mark, but added two more 3-pointers before the half. The last was from the left corner in front of the Rice bench as time expired, when Sims emphatically reacted by pumping both her arms as Baylor led 45-18 and she already had 24 points.
In what was a slow-starting game, Rice had its last lead when Reem Moussa, the Owls’ 5-foot-5 guard drove around 6-4 Sune Agbuke for a layup that made it 5-3 nearly 4½ minutes into the game.
Davis made a tying basket for Baylor before Agbuke then blocked a shot by 6-foot Christal Porter.
Wright made a baseline jumper on an inbound pass from Sims, who then had a miss that Kristina Higgins into a putback basket. Sims scored the next 12 Baylor points, half of those in less than a minute.
Sims made two free throws with 12:22 left, then had consecutive steals that she converted into breakaway layups to quickly stretched the lead to 17-9.
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