No. 1 Baylor 84, Oklahoma St. 57
When opponents decide to load up inside against preseason All-American Brittney Griner, top-ranked Baylor now has a way to relieve the pressure. Get the ball to Destiny Williams.
Griner scored 19 points and Williams had her second big game in a row with 17 points, leading the Bears past Oklahoma State 84-57 Sunday to achieve the best start to a season in school history.
The Cowgirls (13-8, 1-7 Big 12) decided to bear down on Griner, but that just left more room for Williams to hurt them with mid-range jumpers. She followed a career-high 19 points in her last game by going 6-for-8 in this one, giving the already-loaded Bears (21-1, 8-0) just one more weapon.
''Destiny is a post player that faces the basket well, has a great touch on the ball. When things are collapsing on Griner down there, she's going to get those looks,'' coach Kim Mulkey said. ''It makes them think twice about what they can do to Griner down there. She just is a very talented player and she adds so much to our basketball team.''
Williams transferred from Illinois and didn't become eligible until midway through the season. Cowgirls coach Kurt Budke said he'd heard from Iowa State's Bill Fennelly, who coached Williams on a USA Basketball team, that she was a potential all-Big 12 performer that nobody seemed to know about.
''You saw today how good she can be. She's powerful, she's strong, she's got a nice touch from 15 foot on in,'' Budke said. ''You've got to give up something, and when that something is hot like they were hot, I don't know which direction you go.''
Visits to Gallagher-Iba Arena hadn't been friendly even to the best Bears teams in recent history. Baylor was also 20-1 and on a 13-game winning streak when it played at Oklahoma State three years ago, but fell behind by 19 in a game controlled by the Cowgirls.
The Bears had another 13-game winning streak snapped in Stillwater last season.
This time, they had no trouble.
Baylor built a 20-point lead by halftime and then put away its 18th straight win with a 12-0 run early in the second half, when Griner finally got going.
Vicky McIntyre scored 12 points to lead Oklahoma State, which lost starting point guard Tiffany Bias to what Budke believed was a mild concussion. Bias was tripped on a drive to the basket, fell hard to the floor and then walked to the locker room with 12:26 left in the game and did not return to the bench.
By then, the Cowgirls were already out of it.
Griner piled on by hitting her next four shots to stretch the lead to 74-44, and the Bears eventually led by 35. Baylor shot 53 percent and went 5-for-11 from 3-point range.
''I picked them from day one to win the national championship, and they've done nothing to change my mind,'' Budke said. ''I've been fortunate in my career to have a chance to compete against the great Connecticut teams with (Diana) Taurasi and the great Tennessee teams with (Tamika) Catchings and those people, and this team is right there with them.
''They've got an unbelievable force in the middle, their role players are just getting better and better and when they make shots like that from the perimeter, I'm not sure what the answer is to beat these people.''
The Cowgirls fell to 0-6 this season against Top 25 opponents and 0-2 all-time against No. 1 teams. Mulkey was an assistant coach for top-ranked Louisiana Tech when it won at Gallagher-Iba in 1989.
Oklahoma State slowed the pace to a crawl and deployed a 2-3 zone to try and slow the Bears, but still couldn't get anything going against a Baylor defense allowing opponents the worst shooting percentage in the nation. The Cowgirls started just 3 for 12 from the field and fell behind 20-9 midway through the first half.
Even after Griner picked up her second foul by slamming into Lindsey Keller on the offensive end, Oklahoma State couldn't capitalize with her on the bench for 8 1/2 minutes.
Kendra Suttles had a spinning layup inside and Lakyn Garrison hit a 3-pointer to get the deficit down to 25-18, but the Bears then scored the next nine points and finished the first half on an 18-5 run to stretch their lead to 43-23.
''That was part of our plan going in was to try to get her in foul trouble quick because we thought we could handle everybody else as long as she was out, and we kind of let the other players get away from us,'' Garrison said. ''We didn't take advantage of the time that she was on the bench, and that really hurt us.''