Jan. 7, 2012
AMES, Iowa (AP) - Baylor and Iowa State both succeeded in what they wanted to do defensively.
The difference was that No. 1 Baylor had Brittney Griner and Iowa State didn't.
Griner scored 26 points and her teammates contributed just enough to carry the Lady Bears past Iowa State 57-45 on Saturday night. Baylor (15-0, 2-0 Big 12) continued the best start in school history but had to work to do it against the feisty Cyclones, who played deliberately and milked the shot clock.
"This is life on the road, guys," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "This is just one of many. It prepares you. It prepares you for the playoffs."
Iowa State (9-4, 0-2) led briefly in the first half, trailed by three at the half and was down just 26-24 when Nikki Moody hit a 3-pointer early in the second half.
But Baylor responded with a 10-0 run that included five points from Griner to open a 36-24 lead, and though the Cyclones kept threatening, that was enough of a cushion for the Lady Bears to hold on and protect their No. 1 ranking.
"We needed to make shots," said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly, whose team shot 37 percent and was outscored 16-6 on free throws. "We didn't make enough of them and we got beat pretty bad at the free throw line. You've got to credit Baylor's defense. But I thought our kids played really, really hard and competed with the best team in the country."
Anna Prins, a 6-foot-7 junior, led Iowa State with 17 points. But the 6-8 Griner rarely faced off against Prins. Instead, Mulkey put her on 6-2 Chelsea Poppens, who came in averaging 14.5 points and leading the Big 12 in rebounding (11.7).
Poppens grabbed eight rebounds and made a career high six steals, but shot just 1-for-7 and scored only two points.
"I just thought Poppens is a big leader for them," Mulkey said. "We took some of her strengths away tonight."
Still, it was unusual for Griner to see someone nearly her size on the court and she did go against Prins occasionally.
"You've got to keep playing your game," Griner said. "You can't change up something you're doing. If it's working, it's going to continue to work. I love going up against players that are my size."
Fennelly directed his defense at point guard Odyssey Sims and the Cyclones held her to one shot - a driving layup she made after a steal. She did come up with four steals and pressured Moody throughout, holding her to three points on 1-for-7 shooting.
It was Iowa State's first game against a No. 1 team at home and was much closer than the Cyclones' three previous games against a team at the top of the Associated Press poll. The Cyclones lost those games by an average of 26 points.
For Griner, it was a much more pleasant experience than her previous visit to Hilton Coliseum two years ago. She was held to 10 points in that one and Iowa State hit 16 3-pointers in blowing out the Lady Bears 69-45.
"The last time we were here, we were embarrassed on national television," Mulkey said. "So we said, don't let them rain threes all night. Make them do something within the arc."
Iowa State clawed back from Baylor's early second-half run to draw to 41-36 on Prins' bucket inside with 9:43 left, and were still in it when Poppens hit a layup with 6:10 remaining. But that's as close as it would get down the stretch.
Griner, who shot just 9-for-20, scored five points and Jordan Madden, who scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half, got free for a layup in a 9-0 run that put it out of reach.
"When you have a player like Brittney Griner, it's hard to get stops consecutively," said Lauren Mansfield, who scored 10 points for Iowa State. "Great players are going to make great plays. You've got to keep fighting because they're going to make plays."
Griner went scoreless in the first 5:35, then showed her versatility in hitting four straight shots - two turnaround jumpers, a baseline jumper and a hook - to put Baylor up 13-5. But she missed her next three and Iowa State got back in it by picking up its rebounding and keeping the Lady Bears away from the basket with a zone defense.
After managing just two baskets in the opening 10 minutes, Iowa State found its touch and ran off 10 straight points. Prins scored over Griner and hit a turnaround, and Mansfield knocked down two straight 3-pointers, putting ISU up 15-13.
Baylor pulled back ahead on Kimetria Hayden's 3-pointer a minute-and-a-half later and Iowa State never led again. Four Griner free throws and Sune Agbuke's layup stretched the lead to 24-17 before Amanda Zimmerman's free throw and Brynn Williamson's 3 drew Iowa State to 24-21 at the half.