Griner scores 35 in Baylor's easy win over Liberty
WACO, Texas (AP) -- Brittney Griner had an assist and three blocked shots in the opening minute of the game. Then, the 6-foot-8 sophomore standout starting scoring for second-ranked Baylor.
Griner finished with a career-high 35 points, even outscoring Liberty by herself in the first half, along with nine rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Lady Bears' 81-42 victory Friday night.
"I feel like I'm doing pretty good," Griner said. "The guards are finding me when I position myself, so they're helping me get into the groove."
Baylor (6-1) led for good after Griner assisted on Brooklyn Pope's jumper on the opening shot just six seconds into the game. Griner quickly had her first three blocks after that on the same Liberty possession, and that's what really got her going.
"It motives me a lot actually," Griner said. "When I get three or four blocks, I hope they drive the whole night. I just told my guards, 'If you get beat, I got you. Just let them come to me.'"
Griner, the preseason AP All-American, then had a three-point play and a jumper as the Lady Bears jumped out to a 9-0 lead.
"She is a major impact player," Liberty coach Carey Green said. "She's the premier post in the country. As far as us facing her, we tried a lot of things and she was more successful. ... She's doing a lot of very good things in the post."
By halftime, Griner already had 23 points, two more than Liberty's entire team. The Lady Bears led 47-21 at the break.
The previous high scoring game for Griner was 34 points last December against Oral Roberts.
Freshman guard Odyssey Sims added 12 points for Baylor and Pope had 10.
Emily Frazier's eight points led Liberty.
Griner was 13-of-18 shooting and made nine of 10 free throws while playing 30 minutes with no fouls.
"Brittney got a lot of good looks in the game. ... Sometimes we fuss at her to quit getting pushed off the block. I thought she did get some more closer-to-the-rim-type baskets," coach Kim Mulkey said. "I just think Brittney needs to do more of that. Don't just settle for jumpers all the time. I thought she did a good job of finishing that."
While that is another sign that Griner is maturing on the court, she is just that much better against the teams Baylor is playing right now.
Things could get a little tougher soon. After playing Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday, the Lady Bears have a three-game stretch that includes games against fourth-ranked Tennessee and 18th-ranked Notre Dame.
The Lady Bears have won their six home games by an average margin of 42 points. Their only loss is a one-point loss at top-ranked Connecticut, when Griner had 19 points and nine blocks but made only 5 of 13 free throws.
In the three games since that, Griner had made 27 of 30 free throws (90 percent) and 32 of 49 field goals (65 percent) with at least 27 points and seven rebounds in each game.
"Coach just told me just go up there and shoot them," Griner said of the free throws. "I really ain't doing anything different."
On Tuesday night, Griner set Baylor's career record for blocked shots, breaking the mark of Danielle Wilson, who needed 92 games over three seasons to get 249.
With seven more block Friday, Griner has 258 in her 42-game career, moving past Kansas State's Marlies Gipson (257) for third on the Big 12 career list. Griner trails only Oklahoma's Courtney Paris (446) and Texas Tech's Cisti Greenwalt (300).
Baylor jumped out to a 20-5 lead with 14:17 left in the first half after two free throws by Griner, who already had nine points by then.
"I don't think we did a good job," Green said. "We wanted to put more pressure on the guards and make the entry passes into (Griner) more difficult and try to be more physical with her and push her farther away from the basket where she's less effective. She's improved."
Updated November 26, 2010