March 20, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) -
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was so frustrated by the sloppy play of her starters right after halftime that she briefly considering pulling them all out of the game.
She let them play through it.
After all, the top-seeded Lady Bears held Prairie View to the lowest-scoring first half ever in an NCAA tournament game and were on their way to a 66-30 first-round victory Sunday night.
"I don't look at the score. I just coach," Mulkey said. "I think anybody that's on the floor at any time in the game, you just keep coaching, and you keep teaching and you keep demanding things."
While the Big 12 champion Lady Bears are very good, they are still very young. Brittney Griner, their 6-foot-8 standout, is one of seven sophomores on a team with a freshman starting point guard.
Griner and Brooklyn Pope each had 17 points, and Kimetria Hayden had 12. Griner played a team-high 28 minutes, also finishing with eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
"There is no perfect game. There's always something you can learn," Griner said. "Coach Mulkey does a great job of pointing out those errors."
As Pope put it about her coach, "Although it was a blowout, we still had plenty of mistakes that I'm sure she will address tomorrow."
The Lady Bears (32-2) didn't have to be perfect in their NCAA opener at home.
Things couldn't have gone any worse for SWAC champion Prairie View (21-12), which missed its first 12 shots before Waco native Robin Jones finally made a layup more than 9 minutes into the game. Baylor already had a 16-0 lead by then.
The Lady Bears, who went to the Final Four last season, led 34-8 at halftime. That was the fewest points ever by a women's team in an NCAA tournament game and just five more than the lowest mark in a regular-season game.
"You can tell coach Mulkey has those girls on another level. They've got something they want to prove," Lady Panthers coach Toyelle Wilson said. "We couldn't score. We had nobody step up - nobody - the whole game."
Prairie View was only 3-of-27 shooting before halftime, and finished 12 of 60 (20 percent). The 30 total points were the third-lowest in an NCAA women's tournament game.
Siarra Soliz led Prairie View with 12 points. The freshman guard, Prairie View's leading scorer for the season in a starting lineup with four seniors, had five turnovers - three in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the game.
Baylor plays Tuesday night against West Virginia (24-9), with the winner going to the round of 16. The Mountaineers beat Conference USA champion Houston 79-73 in the first game Sunday at the Ferrell Center, where Baylor is 20-0 this season.
The Lady Bears have reached the NCAA round of 16 five times the past seven years.
Though the Lady Bears were in complete control the entire game, Mulkey at times sat on the bench with her arms and legs crossed while staring at the court, seemingly frustrated by some of the mistakes made by her team.
"It was a game that we took care of business, I guess you'd say," Mulkey said.
Things will certainly get more difficult moving forward, and there were teaching moments in what looked at times more like a glorified practice for Baylor.
Every Lady Bears player was on the floor for at least six minutes.
Pope and Destiny Williams, who scored the Lady Bears' first six points, are sophomore post players who sat out last year after transferring to Baylor. Starting point guard Odyssey Sims is a freshman and finished with five points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Griner, one of seven women who have dunked in a college game, looked as if she wanted to try to become only the second with a slam in an NCAA tournament game.
After Griner had a steal midway through the first half, she was headed toward the basket with defenders around her. She settled for a reverse one-handed layup that made it 20-2.
Baylor was up 6-0 after Griner drew the entire Prairie View defense to the left side of the lane, and passed to Williams for an easy layup. Griner shook her head up and down when she turned and started going back to play defense.
"If everybody's coming straight to me, I can always find Destiny or Brooklyn," Griner said. "That kind of got me pumped up. It's easy, catch it up high, turn and pass it to her."
The next basket came when Madden passed up on a 3-pointer, took a step and passed inside to Griner for a layup.
The fewest points scored in any half of a Division I women's game was by Savannah State, which trailed Florida State 54-3 at halftime on Nov. 23, 2003.
"I know coach Mulkey is going to come in here and say she's upset with how they played. She's going to say this isn't going to win them a championship," Wilson said. "I think they're a Final Four team. We just need to get more ammo against these teams in the NCAA tournament."