Griner’s near triple-double leads No. 6 Baylor after Gonzaga Defeat

AP Basketball Writer

   LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s only been 11 games, and Brittney Griner has already made incredible strides on the court.
   Griner had 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks, and No. 6 Baylor routed Gonzaga 70-49 on Saturday night in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. It came one game after she recorded the first triple-double in school history.
   “I’m so proud of Brittney,” said Morgan Medlock, who added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears (10-1). “This isn’t the same Brittney Griner you saw in Tennessee. She’s just learning the system and the kid is getting better every single game.”
   Medlock was playing on the one-year anniversary of the death of her mother, who was killed in an apparent murder-suicide.
   “Morgan is mature beyond her years. No one can understand what was in her heart and her head today,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
   “All you can do is hug her and love her and try not to talk about it unless she wants to talk about it. I’ve watched her handle the situation and for her to go out there today knowing that was in the back of her head, she couldn’t have handled it any better.”
   Katelan Redmon scored 13 points to lead Gonzaga (9-3).
   Gonzaga missed 13 of its first 15 shots as Baylor built a 20-5 lead early in the first half. The Zags cut their deficit to 22-10 on Tiffanie Shives’ 3-pointer with 10:54 left, but then went scoreless over the next 5 1/2 minutes as the Lady Bears scored 11 straight points.
   Kimetria Hayden’s layup off a nifty pass from Griner made it a 23-point lead.
   “We got off to a tough start,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said. “You can’t give a team like that a 20-point lead and expect to win.
   Baylor led 41-24 at the half, shooting 52 percent from the field. Gonzaga cut the deficit to 43-32, but Griner sparked a 10-2 spurt to put the game away.
   “We went in knowing everyone had to be at their best,” said Gonzaga’s Heather Bowman, who scored 11. “We just didn’t put it together.”
   She also was a force on the defensive end, blocking six shots in the second half.
   It was a tough day all-around for Gonzaga basketball — the men’s team lost to Duke by 36 points at Madison Square Garden.
   Gonzaga will face Texas A&M and Baylor will play Arizona State on Sunday night to finish off the tournament. The 13th-ranked Aggies beat No. 14 Arizona State 72-62 earlier Saturday.
   The game was played in a casino a couple of miles off the Strip. The arena is used mostly for rodeos and the facility brought in a movable floor that is usually used by the West Coast Conference for their postseason tournament and for the NBA summer league.
   Gonzaga had played twice before on it, winning both games. Coach Kelly Graves reminded his team of that in shootaround Friday night. His team looked a lot less comfortable Saturday.