Feb. 18, 2012
WACO, Texas (AP) - Brittney Griner and the top-ranked Baylor Lady Bears are still undefeated and already have at least a share of the Big 12 conference title.
Griner had 18 points, 14 rebounds and matched a career high with five assists as Baylor overcame one of its worst extended stretches of bad play all season for a 56-51 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night.
Destiny Williams added 16 points for the Lady Bears (27-0, 14-0 Big 12), getting most of her points on layups - several coming at key times. Her layup with 7:49 left, on a play started by Griner, broke a 46-all tie and put Baylor ahead to stay.
The Lady Raiders (17-9, 5-9) are the only Big 12 team to keep the final margin against Baylor under 10 points. They lost 72-64 at home a month earlier.
After Baylor scored the game's first nine points, Texas Tech recovered to build as much as a nine-point lead before halftime.
Baylor, the only undefeated team in major college basketball, was still down by seven before Kimetria Hayden had consecutive assists to Williams for inside baskets. That capped a 10-2 run that put Baylor ahead 42-41 with just over 12 minutes left.
The Lady Bears went ahead to stay when Griner, surrounded by defenders, passed outside to Terran Condrey, who got the ball right back inside to Williams for her go-ahead layup.
Baylor can clinch the Big 12 title outright with a win at home Tuesday over Texas.
No. 14 Texas A&M (19-6, 10-4) remained four games behind the Lady Bears with four games remaining in conference play. The defending national champion Aggies, who beat Oklahoma State on Saturday night, lost 71-48 a week earlier at Waco. Baylor plays at College Station on Feb. 27.
Monique Smalls had 13 points to lead Texas Tech, while Kierra Mallard had 10.
When the game ended, Baylor had a full celebration, including confetti falling from the rafters and a trophy presentation - though coach Kim Mulkey and the players were actually lifting up the 2011 Big 12 championship trophy they won last year. The players were given new Big 12 championship T-shirts and caps.
Griner, the 6-foot-8 junior phenom, ran across the court scooping confetti in her hand and throwing it up in the air. She then got down, spreading her body on the floor and doing her version of "snow angels" in the confetti like she had also done a year ago.
When fans were invited to join the celebration on the court, they crowded around the goal where coaches and players were taking turns climbing a ladder to clip off their individual pieces of the net.
The final cuts were made by Mulkey with her two children on the ladder with her - just like they were after Baylor won the 2005 national championship. Mulkey's daughter, Makenzie Robertson, is now a sophomore guard for the Lady Bears.
With the chance to clinch the title at home before another sellout crowd, Williams made two layups in the first 45 seconds of the game and Baylor went on to build a 9-0 lead after Griner's three-point play and a jumper by Hayden.
The Lady Raiders finally scored when Smalls banked a 3-pointer at the 15:42 mark. Mallard and Morris hit 3s over the next 2 minutes and they tied the game at 9. That trio of 3s started a 26-8 run, which pushed Tech ahead 26-17 on Jordan Barncastle's 3-pointer with 4:40 left in the first half.
Four free throws by Griner in the closing minute cut the gap to 32-30 before Mallard hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left for a 35-30 lead.
Baylor missed its first six shots after halftime and was down 39-32 when Christine Hyde made a free throw with just under 16 minutes left.
Then came the game-turning 10-2 run that began with a flurry of six points in 26 seconds.
Condrey made a 3-pointer with an assists from Sims, who then had a steal and was fouled. She made the second free throw before Condrey had a steal that led to another assist by Sims, this one to Griner.
The celebration was finally on after Griner made two free throws with 8 seconds left.