West Virginia women lose 76-58 to No. 1 Baylor
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
WACO, Texas (AP) When West Virginia returns to Baylor next year, coach Mike Carey won't have to worry about Brittney Griner.
At least this time, it wasn't an elimination game and there's still plenty of season left for the Mountaineers.
Griner had her 50th career double-double while just missing a triple-double, scoring 26 points with 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots, as the top-ranked Lady Bears beat Big 12 newcomer West Virginia 76-58 on Saturday night.
"Griner, best player in the country, bar none," Carey said.
The Lady Bears (16-1, 6-0 Big 12) won their 49th game in a row at the Ferrell Center. Their home winning streak, the longest active such in the nation, includes an win over West Virginia in an NCAA tournament second-round game two years ago when Griner had 30 points and eight blocks.
"She's gotten better every year," Carey said. "And she's under control at all times. As a coach, you think she's going over somebody's back. She's really not. She's jumping over them."
Griner appeared to have her 10th block at one point but officials whistled West Virginia (11-6, 3-3) for a travel on the play. The senior 6-foot-8 two-time All-American didn't play the final 4 minutes.
Christal Caldwell led West Virginia with 22 points. Taylor Palmer scored 17, and Crystal Leary had 11 rebounds.
Odyssey Sims had 15 points and seven assists for Baylor, which won its record 28th consecutive regular season conference game.
After West Virginia got a 3-pointer from Palmer 22 seconds into the game, Baylor responded with a 20-2 run. Griner had 10 points in that streak, and Sims had eight with two three-point plays.
By the first media timeout only 5 minutes into the game, the Lady Bears had already surged ahead 15-5 and West Virginia has as many turnovers as points.
The Mountaineers had won three in a row since opening their first Big 12 schedule with losses against Oklahoma and Kansas.
West Virginia sophomore guard Akilah Bethel was carried off the court with just more than 2 minutes to go. She grabbed her left knee after falling to the floor on a drive to the basket, though the extent of her injury wasn't clear since Carey didn't address it after the game.
Griner, who finished 11-of-17 shooting, had 18 points and eight rebounds by halftime, when Baylor led 40-24.
With her nine blocks, Griner increased her career total to 651, only 13 shy of breaking the NCAA career record.
West Virginia ended Baylor's big run with six points in a row in a span of 36 seconds, capped by Caldwell and Jess Harlee turning consecutive steals into breakaway baskets in only 15 seconds.
But Griner quickly responded with six points in a row of her own and by the next timeout with 8 minutes left in the first half, Griner already had 16 points - one more than West Virginia at the time, when Baylor led 26-15.
Ayana Dunning, who was averaging 10.8 points a game, finished scoreless with four fouls in 23 minutes for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot-3 senior center was 0-for-8 shooting, including five from 3-point range.
"We got a little bit of momentum. We thought we could pop Dunning a lot. ... She got in foul trouble. She's usually a pretty good shooter from the 3," Carey said. "If she could have gotten hot, which would have brought Brittney out a little bit, that would have opened up the lanes a little bit. But once she wasn't hitting (shots), Brittney was able to sit in there a little bit more. `'
Updated January 19, 2013