Efficient Griner, No. 1 Baylor women roll past TCU
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer
WACO, Texas (AP) Decked out in pink from head to toe, stylish Baylor coach Kim Mulkey mostly just watched from her signature crouch on the sideline while Brittney Griner and plenty of reserves put the Lady Bears on the brink of another Big 12 title.
Griner had 22 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes, No. 1 Baylor held TCU to 26-percent shooting and the Lady Bears clinched at least a share of the league's regular season championship with a 78-45 victory on Saturday.
Mulkey didn't have to say much once Baylor went on a 17-2 run for a 27-10 lead, which allowed the coach to get at least eight minutes for every player on the roster with Baylor visiting No. 3 Connecticut on Monday night.
"Was it a game plan to do it because we have a quick turnaround with Connecticut?" Mulkey said. "I guess it's a game plan in every game, but not every game allows you to do it."
This one did.
The Lady Bears extended their nation-leading streaks to 53 home wins, 36 league victories and 22 straight this year while keeping TCU (7-17, 0-13) without a league win in its first Big 12 season.
Nobody scored in double figures for the Horned Frogs, who were 17 of 65 from the field and 6 of 27 from 3-pointer range. Kamy Cole led TCU with nine on 3-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
"We just had trouble getting off any open looks," TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. "They have a protector at the rim and they guard the arc very well, and we struggled all day with that."
Griner spent almost half the game on the bench near Mulkey's bright pink pants and high heels on Baylor's "Play 4Kay" day in honor of late N.C. State coach Kay Yow, who died of breast cancer in 2009.
The Big 12's career scoring leader had four points on the 17-2 run that included six points from Destiny Williams, who punctuated the spurt by poking the ball away from Ashley Colbert for a breakaway layup and a 27-10 lead midway through the first half.
Take away Griner's 22 points, and the Baylor bench had 32 points to 24 for the rest of the Baylor starters. Alexis Prince led the backups with 10.
"Any time the bench can get on the court early and the young players and freshmen can get valuable minutes in a game, it's just going to make us better," Griner said. "It's just good to see them out there playing."
Griner extended her double-figure scoring streak to 105 games, and her block against Donielle Breaux early in the second half gave her at least one rejection in 74 consecutive games. She had her 55th career double-double and was 11 of 14 from the field as Baylor (24-1, 14-0) outscored TCU 56-10 in the paint.
Baylor's lead hovered around 20 early in the second half, and a crowd anxious for entertainment got excited when Griner, who has an NCAA-record 13 dunks, ended up with the ball alone under the basket but had to settle for dropping the ball over the rim for a 45-27 lead.
Many in the crowd were laughing a few minutes later when the 6-foot-8 Griner ended up defending 5-foot TCU guard Meagan Henson at the top of the key. Henson opted to pass before immediately getting the ball back and hitting a 3-pointer with Griner a safer distance away.
"She's working on her perimeter defense," Mulkey joked.
"It wasn't too good," Griner answered. "She shot a 3 and made it."
Griner started and finished a 14-5 Baylor run in the second half with a pair of baskets, the latter putting Baylor ahead 65-37 with 8 1/2 minutes to go. Griner went to the bench for good a short time later.
TCU, playing in pink uniforms with purple letters and numbers, stayed close for the first 5 minutes thanks to 3-pointers from freshman Zahna Medley, who was coming off a career-best 35-point game, and Delisa Gross.
The Horned Frogs were coming off a one-point loss to Kansas in which they led by as many as 23 before Kansas scored with 14 seconds left in a 76-75 victory.
TCU's top three scorers - Medley, Cole and Natalie Ventress - were a combined 6 of 32 from the field against Baylor.
"You could tell there was a lingering effect to that," Mittie said. "I kind of chewed on them pretty good because I felt like we were still lingering a little bit. I felt like there were times in this game when we competed better, but we were obviously overmatched in some spots."
Updated February 16, 2013