Griner 50 points, No. 1 Baylor 90-68 over K-State
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Basketball Writer
WACO, Texas (AP) Brittney Griner finally gave Baylor fans what they have been waiting so long to see again at home: a slam dunk.
Along with another record performance in her final regular season game for the top-ranked Lady Bears.
Griner's 14th career dunk, her first at the Ferrell Center since her freshman season, came as the two-time All-American scored a Big 12-record 50 points in a 90-68 victory Monday night over Kansas State as the Lady Bears wrapped up their second consecutive undefeated conference title.
"It means everything to just go out with a bang like that," Griner said. "Got a dunk finally at home, scored 50. I mean there's not a better way to go out."
Baylor (29-1, 18-0 Big 12) is the first team to twice go through Big 12 play without a loss. The Lady Bears have won a record 46 consecutive Big 12 games, including tournament games, and have won 55 in a row at home.
The defending national champions play their Big 12 tournament opener Saturday in Dallas, and host an NCAA regional in three weeks.
"Postseason, it's here. It's time," Griner said. "It's time to bring it."
The 6-foot-8 Griner got her first career dunk as a freshman in November 2009, then had two in a game at home against Texas State on Jan. 2, 2010. The last 10 slams had been on the road, including six already this season.
"She's been getting a lot of questions about when's the next time you're gonna dunk it at home," coach Kim Mulkey said. "I guess she saved it."
With 16:56 left, Griner got a pass from fellow senior Kimetria Hayden, took a step around a defender along the baseline and went up for a one-handed slam that sent the record-tying crowd of 10,627 into a frenzy. It was her third career dunk against K-State.
Griner made 21 of 28 field goals and eight of 10 free throws, but her 50 points didn't set a Baylor single-game record. Mary Lowry had a 54-point game for the Lady Bears in 1994, before the formation of the Big 12.
"I just came into the game knowing it was going to be emotional," Griner said. "I didn't know how it was going to play out."
With her 3,123 career points, Griner moved into second place on the NCAA career scoring list behind Jackie Stiles, who had 3,393 points for Missouri State from 1997-2001.
"The end results of this game, obviously, is a big margin of victory for Baylor. I was really proud of how long our team was able to keep this game within reach," K-State coach Deb Patterson said. "Obviously, Brittney Griner had a tremendous game with the mismatch in there. One-on-one, zone, one-on-two, she was really effective in getting deep, and she had a great finish to her career here at Baylor."
Brittney Chambers had 22 points to lead five K-State players in double figures - all played at least 35 minutes with only two reserves in uniform. The injury-plagued and undersized Wildcats - their tallest player on the court was 5-11 - got 13 points from Haley Texada, 12 from Brianna Craig, 11 from Chantay Caron and 10 from Mariah White.
Kansas State hit 15 3-pointers, including four in the first 4 minutes of the second half to keep the Wildcats close despite Griner's rim-rocking highlight.
Griner's dunk put Baylor up 54-45, but Caron responded with a 3-pointer for the Wildcats and then stole the ball from Griner, leading to a layup by Texada that cut the gap to 54-50.
"Congratulations to Brittney," Patterson sad. "At the same time, I felt like all but about seven minutes of that game, we competed extremely well."
Destiny Williams had 14 points for Baylor, and Odyssey Sims had 12 points. Hayden had nine points and eight assists.
After Griner got her 50th point with just over 2 minutes left, Baylor called timeout. She excitedly jumped around and into arms of Hayden, and got a huge ovation as the fans chanted "Thank you seniors!"
All five Baylor seniors in uniform were in the starting lineup: Griner, Hayden, Williams, Brooklyn Pope and Jordan Madden. They were also honored in a postgame ceremony, along with student assistant Shanay Washington, a former Lady Bears guard who didn't play again after sustaining her fifth torn anterior cruciate ligament late last season. It happened three times at Baylor after twice in high school.
The Wildcats were within 63-60 when Chambers leaned in to make a tough layup with just under 12 minutes left. But they never got closer as Baylor responded with 23-2 run over the next 9 minutes that included 17 points in a row.
"They just quit making 3s, and we did a better job switching," Mulkey said. "Sometimes when you have the green light like that, you're pretty relaxed and I just thought they made some outstanding shots. ... I thought we played hard, but we didn't play hard enough until the last 10 minutes of the game."
Updated March 5, 2013