Jan. 30, 2011
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Texas A&M slowed Baylor star Brittney Griner.
The Aggies couldn't do the same to freshman Odyssey Sims.
Sims tied a season-high with 25 points and Griner had 17 points and 12 rebounds to help top-ranked Baylor beat Texas A&M 63-60 on Sunday.
Sims hit a jumper in the lane with 26 seconds left to put Baylor (19-1, 6-0 Big 12) on top 62-60.
"When all else fails, she knows how to find the rim," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
Sims knew she had to take control after Texas A&M (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) tied the game.
"The game was on the line," she said. "I had the ball in my hands, and I couldn't run from the ball. I just created, got inside and was able to get the shot off."
A steal by Melissa Jones on Texas A&M's next possession forced the Aggies to foul her. She hit the first of two free throws to make it 63-60 with 10 seconds left.
The Aggies had a chance to tie it, but Sydney Colson's 3-point attempt was short. The Aggies got the ball back but Tyra White's desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer was also short.
Sims has developed into a major threat to teams who focus on Griner after being thrust into action as Baylor's starting point guard after two-year starter Kelli Griffin quit just before the season.
"That's the difference," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said of Sims. "I don't think there's a freshman point guard in the country better than her. She's got the ability to control in mid-air and bump into you and push off and be physical. Most freshman don't know how to use that arm."
Mulkey was happy with the performance of Sims, but wasn't quite ready to call her the best point guard in the nation.
"I think (Oklahoma's) Danielle Robinson has a little bit of seniority on her, but I coach this one, and I have this one for three more years," she said. "Ask me that in three more years and I'll be able to answer that then."
The victory is Baylor's 16th straight and leaves the Bears alone in first place in the Big 12 Conference.
White led Texas A&M (18-2, 6-1) with 18 points.
Baylor led by seven points before Texas A&M used a 10-3 spurt capped by a 3-pointer by Colson to tie it at 60-all with 49 seconds remaining before the go-ahead shot by Sims.
"Truthfully, we didn't get the ball to Griner enough, but give credit to A&M about that," Mulkey said. "We understand that we have to get better in certain areas, and getting open today was very difficult for us."
Texas A&M played the last few minutes without Big 12 leading scorer Danielle Adams after she fouled out. She finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"What really hurt us was not having Adams at the end to have another 3-point shooter," Blair said.
The Aggies used a big run in the second half to overcome a double-digit deficit and take the lead with about nine minutes left. But the Bears answered with a 9-2 spurt, fueled by six points from Sims, to take a 55-50 lead five minutes later.
The loss is Texas A&M's first since a three-point defeat by No. 3 Duke on Dec. 6 and breaks a 12-game winning streak for the Aggies. A crowd of 13,162, including Texas A&M football coach Mike Sherman, came to see the showdown of the top teams in the Big 12. It was the largest crowd to see a women's basketball game in Texas A&M history.
Adams got her fourth foul with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining and the Bears leading 51-49. Griner picked up her fourth foul less than a minute later when she went over Karla Gilbert's back trying to get a rebound.
Adams fouled out when she got tangled up with Brooklyn Pope with about four minutes remaining. Pope knocked down both free throws to make it 57-50.
The Aggies, who made just 10 of 35 shots in the first half, finally got on track early in the second half. They were down by 14 before going on an 22-6 run to take a 48-46 lead with nine minutes remaining. The Aggies had a pair of 3-pointers in that run and seemed to get Baylor off-balance with a full court press. Baylor's shooting went cold for a time early in the spurt and the team didn't score field goal for almost five minutes.
"The key there was our defense for sure," Colson said. "Just getting up and being in the press. We just wanted to have bodies up there to force some pressure. In the end we didn't do enough to win it."
The Aggies used several different players to try to slow Griner, but Adams spent the most time defending her. She's seven inches shorter than the 6-foot-8 Griner, but used aggressive, physical play down low to help A&M deal with the star.
But her work on defense may have hurt her offensive output on Sunday as she finished almost 10 points below her season average.
"That was my main focus was to contain her and stop her," Adams said.
Griner, who became a YouTube sensation in high school for her dunking ability, looked like she might dunk it on a fast break early in the second half. But she slowed down just before reaching the goal and simply dropped it in to put Baylor ahead 40-26.
The score was tied at 19-all with about seven minutes remaining in the first half before Baylor used an 11-0 run to take a 30-19 lead about 2 1/2 minutes later. The Aggies had three turnovers and missed three shots in that span.
Griner hit a jump shot about 30 seconds before halftime to leave the Bears ahead 36-26 at the break.