Baylor remains No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for an eighth straight week after topping UConn last Monday night.
The Lady Bears rallied to beat the third-ranked Huskies by six points before routing Texas for their 37th straight Big 12 regular-season victory. Baylor received all 40 first-place votes for the first time since returning to the top spot. The Lady Bears visit Oklahoma on Monday night.
The first seven stayed unchanged with Notre Dame, UConn, Stanford and Duke following Baylor.
Cal rallied from a 17-point deficit against Oregon State on Sunday to remain sixth. Penn State, Tennessee, Maryland and Kentucky round out the first 10.
A week after falling out of the Top 25, Iowa State came back in at No. 23. Oklahoma State fell out for the first time this season.
Sherri Coale and her Oklahoma Sooners were already enduring a difficult patch in their season when Brittney Griner and top-ranked Baylor rolled into town Monday.
That certainly didn’t make it any easier.
Griner scored 15 points, tied her season-high with 15 rebounds and blocked seven shots to the Bears to their 25th straight victory, 86-64 Monday night against Oklahoma.
After sitting out the last 11 1/2 minutes of the first half with two fouls, Griner returned and hit the first two baskets in a 10-0 run that pushed the Lady Bears’ lead out to 47-30. Baylor (27-1, 16-0 Big 12) led by at least 12 the rest of the way.
Oklahoma suffered its fourth loss in its last five games and prepared for a few days off before a home game Saturday against Kansas.
”We hit a really tough stretch of road games and hot teams and close proximity, quick turnaround, and all of that together is like a very bad perfect storm for us,” Coale said. ”But we’ve lived through it. Here we stand.”
The Sooners made it a game while Griner was on the bench, but couldn’t keep up with the defending national champions when she was on the floor.
Oklahoma (19-9, 9-7) cut a 16-point deficit down to four while Griner was out, then she returned and hit the first two baskets in a 10-0 run that pushed the Lady Bears’ lead out to 47-30.
She also had a blocked shot, two rebounds and the assist on Kimetria Hayden’s 3-pointer during that stretch.
”I sat out most of the first half, so I knew I had to come in in the second half and start off strong and attacking and just doing something to give my team a spark,” Griner said.
Griner moved past Connecticut’s Maya Moore into fourth in career scoring in women’s basketball. Only Jackie Stiles of Missouri State, Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi Valley State and Lorri Bauman of Drake have more than Griner’s 3,045 points.
Aaryn Ellenberg had 19 points to lead Oklahoma. Morgan Hook had 15 points and nine turnovers. The Sooners’ two post players, Nicole Griffin and Joanna McFarland, combined to go 4 for 23 from the field.
Campbell had a pair of baskets during a string of eight straight Oklahoma points that got the deficit down to 57-45 midway through the second half, but Griner stopped the surge with a turnaround jumper in the lane. She also had a layup to start an 8-0 response by the Bears that restored the lead to 69-48.
The Sooners shot just 33 percent, and 32 percent from 3-point range, while getting outscored 54-16 in the paint. It was Oklahoma’s fourth loss in the past five games.
”You’ve got to be able to make a few more shots than that against a team like Baylor, where you can’t get to the rim. You’ve got to make some 3s,” coach Sherri Coale said. ”We had some good looks that we missed. We missed some layups that were pretty good looks, too.
”But that’s what all that speed and athleticism can do to you.”
Oklahoma has lost all 16 games it has played against teams ranked No. 1.
Destiny Williams chipped in 16 points and Odyssey Sims had 13 points and six assists for Baylor.
The Lady Bears stumbled with six turnovers in the first 5 minutes, then cleaned up their act to put together a 13-0 run that included a 3-pointer, a fast-break layup and a jumper from the left block by Jordan Madden for a 19-4 edge with 13:25 to go in the first half. But Griner picked up her second foul about 2 minutes later, and Mulkey put her on the bench for the rest of the half.
Griner fouled out for just the second time in her college career in the first meeting between the teams this season, even though the Bears were already firmly in control by then, and Mulkey took no chances putting her back in.
About 30 seconds after Griner’s second foul, frontcourt partner Brooklyn Pope was called for charging for the second time and also came out.
”I never felt the sense that I needed to put Griner back in,” Mulkey said. ”I felt like we were just going to need to weather the storm, and it allowed some other players to gain some valuable experience on the road,”
Baylor didn’t make a basket for the first 5 minutes after Griner exited, and Oklahoma took advantage of seldom-used substitutes Kristina Higgins and Sune Agbuke to go on a 14-2 run to get the deficit down to 24-20. Even then, Mulkey didn’t make a move to bring Griner back in, and instead it was freshman Alexis Prince that scored eight points over the final 4 minutes of the half to keep the Bears in front 37-30 at halftime.
”It’s always frustrating when you have to sit on the bench and you can’t help the team out. But when they cut it to four, I didn’t get too revved up because I know my team,” Griner said. ”I know that they’ll respond.”