Nov. 17, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) - Brittney Griner had 18 points with 14 rebounds and Odyssey Simsscored 22 points for top-ranked Baylor in an 83-50 victory over No. 22 UCLA on Thursday night that sets up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the preseason WNIT championship game.
The Lady Bears (3-0) host No. 2 Notre Dame on Sunday, after the Irish beat Hartford 98-43 earlier Thursday night.
"Who scheduled this? Who agreed to this?," head coach Kim Mulkey said sarcastically. "But it's OK. I say it all the time, you don't win championships in November and December."
Baylor put its preseason WNIT semifinal game out of reach with a 30-2 run after halftime. That run started with 19 consecutive points, capped when Griner blocked a shot that Jordan Maddencaught and then drove the length of the court for a layup to make it 56-29.
"When we start making runs like that, I get a blocked shot and my team reacts and gets it, you definitely start feeding off that," Griner said. "You want to get it again. ... Each time we try to make a play or get a steal or a big board, we just keep trying to do that."
Baylor finished with a 52-34 rebounding edge, and outscored UCLA 48-18 in the paint.
"Your defense can be special for you," Mulkey said. "It was a great example for them, to see what I've been trying to tell them. We're going to have lots of offensive nights like this. But if they'll just commit to being the best defensive team that maybe we've had here, I think they'll understand that, hey, you finally hung in there long enough to extend the lead."
UCLA, playing without two injured starters, went more than 8½ minutes without a field goal until Thea Lemberger's reach-in jumper with 9:50 left in the game final ended that scoreless streak. But Baylor then responded by scoring 11 more in a row.
It was the 28th double-double in 75 career games for Griner, the 6-foot-8 junior phenom who was a unanimous preseason AP All-American pick after also being on that team at the end of last season. Her six blocked shots pushed her career total to 410, only 36 from matching the Big 12 career record.
Rebekah Gardner led UCLA (2-1) with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Jasmine Dixon was UCLA's lone returning starter after being its second-leading scorer and top rebounder last season, but she was lost for this season when she ruptured her Achilles tendon in a workout in September. The Bruins are hopeful that Markel Walker, another expected starter, can return next month after undergoing offseason thumb surgery.
Notre Dame was the national runner-up last season, but the Irish lost 76-65 in a December game at Baylor.
It will be Baylor's second 1 vs. 2 game, though its first as the No. 1 team. The Lady Bears were No. 2 when they loss 65-64 at top-ranked Connecticut the first week of last season.
After Sims' driving layup and free throw at the end of the first half snapped an 8-0 UCLA run, Griner opened the second half with a putback of her own miss to stretch the lead to 32-23.
During pregame warmups, Lady Bears players wore T-shirts with "300 Mulkey" on them in recognition of Mulkey's 300th career victory, which came in a 91-31 victory over Chattanooga in their last game Sunday. Mulkey was then given flowers and the game ball -- before going out and getting victory No. 301.
UCLA's eight consecutive points came during a stretch when Baylor had five turnovers and Mulkey was assessed a technical foul.
The Bruins were within 27-23 on Gardner's pull-up jumper with 28 seconds left.
Baylor had the final possession, and Sims held the ball in the backcourt before making her move. She drove for a layup with 4.8 seconds left and made the free throw after being fouled.
Mulkey's technical foul came with 1:37 when she questioned a traveling call against Griner, the fourth consecutive Baylor possession that ended with such a turnover.
Before UCLA's biggest spurt of the game, Baylor had matched its largest lead of the first half, 27-15 on Destiny Williams'inside basket with 4 minutes left.
The Lady Bears first led by 12 on consecutive layups by Sims.