Feb. 14, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) - Odyssey Sims saw 6-foot-8 sophomore sensation Brittney Griner running down the court, and saw the look that only meant one thing for top-ranked Baylor.
"I know when we lock eyes, she's great at passing the ball to me over the defenders," Griner said. "So I just took off running and looked at her, and gave her that look like, 'All right, I'm ready.'"
That led to a go-ahead layup with 3 minutes left, the first of three consecutive baskets by Griner late that put the Lady Bears ahead to stay. And they survived another close call against fifth-ranked Texas A&M with a 67-58 victory Monday night.
"It was kind of unexpected, because she was running the floor pretty dang good," said Sims, the freshman point guard who got the ball quickly after Kimetria Hayden rebounded a Texas A&M miss. "I saw her open and gave it to her."
Griner scored 23 of her 26 points after halftime for the Lady Bears (24-1, 11-0 Big 12) in their 21st consecutive victory. That includes nine consecutive wins over Top 25 teams, three of them in the Top 10, since a one-point loss at then-No. 1 and two-time defending national champion Connecticut the first week of the season.
Only two of Baylor's wins this season have been by less than 11 points, and both of those have come in the past 16 days against the Aggies (21-3, 9-2). Texas A&M lost 63-60 at home to the Lady Bears on Jan. 30.
"We grew up. We hit some adversity and figured out a way to win," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "It was just a very good basketball game."
After Griner's go-ahead basket, Big 12 scoring leader Danielle Adams missed for A&M and Griner scored again. Griner then scored another inside basket after a turnover by the Aggies.
"The nation got to see a number one and five team in the country. They played like it. We did everything right until the last 3 1/2 minutes, and they did everything right probably the last 10 minutes of the game," Aggies coach Gary Blair said. "They did a great job of getting the ball down to Griner and she finished."
Adams, coming off an A&M-record 40 points Saturday against Kansas, had a season-low nine points on 5-of-16 shooting. She came into the game averaging 23.7 points, just more than Griner's 22.4 average.
Griner, the preseason AP All-American, came up big when it counted most in a game matching the Big 12's top two teams, adding 11 rebounds for her 24th career double-double. Sims added 22 points.
"When the game was on the line, we executed," Mulkey said. "Winning the game tonight did not win the Big 12 championship for us. Had we lost the game, it wouldn't have lost the Big 12 championship. What we've done now is just have a little bit more separation. There's five games remaining."
Tyra White had a career-high 29 points and was the only player in double figures for Texas A&M, which was held to a season-low 30 percent shooting (22 of 71).
White scored the first 13 points in the second half for the Aggies, including all their points in an 11-2 run she capped with a 3-pointer that made it 42-35 with just over 12 minutes left.
The Lady Bears started their comeback with two inside baskets by Griner that got them within 49-47. Then Hayden had a steal and a breakaway layup to tie the game at 49-49 with 5:46 left.
Adams scored on a drive to give the Aggies a 54-50 lead before a three-point play by Griner.
White then made two free throws before Destiny Williams had a layup and Griner followed with her game-clinching spurt.
Baylor trailed most of the first half, and didn't lead until a 12-2 run during which Sims scored the first 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Sims then had the assist on Griner's layup that capped the spurt and put the Lady Bears up 27-22 with just over 4 minutes before halftime.
Right before that, Griner dribbled inside and was immediately covered by defenders. She passed the ball to Sims on the left wing, for a 3-pointer that broke a 22-all tie and gave Baylor its first lead.
Texas A&M had a 16-8 lead midway through the first half after Sydney Carter made a 3-pointer and White had a three-point play.
Less than a minute later, White saw an opening and shot through the lane to try a layup. Griner swatted the ball out of bounds with a two-handed block.
Sims had 15 of her points by halftime, when the game was tied 29-all.
"It was just something real special with the team. We were down so much of the time," said Melissa Jones, Baylor's only senior starter. "Going into halftime, it was like nothing was going for us. But everyone was just pulling for each other. We were all trying to say things here and there to get each other going. It's just something special about this team that we all have each other's back, no matter what."