No. 1 Baylor 75, No. 23 Iowa St. 47
Iowa State guard Nikki Moody’s layup attempt rolled around and
almost completely stopped on the back of the rim before finally
Even if Moody had finished off her nifty steal in the backcourt,
it wouldn’t have helped the Cyclones much against No. 1 Baylor. The
outcome in the Big 12 women’s tournament championship game was
pretty much decided – and there were still a few seconds remaining
in the first half.
Brittney Griner scored 31 points and the defending national
champion Lady Bears won their third consecutive Big 12 tournament
title, rolling past No. 23 Iowa State 75-47 Monday night.
Count Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly among those who figured the
Big 12 title was decided long ago. When he showed the team where it
stood in league stats and standings during the season, he simply
erased Baylor, which won the regular season by six games.
”I think they are different than anyone in the country,” said
Fennelly, whose team ended up as the runner-up in both the regular
season and the tournament. ”They’ve proven that over the last two
years. What they did to us tonight, they’ve done to a lot people
over the last two years.”
Moody’s miss was the best illustration of the lowest-scoring
half in Big 12 championship game history. Iowa State had two
scoreless stretches totaling 14 minutes and trailed 41-13. The
Cyclones had six missed shots and eight turnovers during a 19-0
Baylor run that covered 8 minutes and wiped out a 6-5 Iowa State
The Cyclones had 15 turnovers before halftime and just seven
rebounds – the same number as Griner, who outscored Iowa State by
10 in the first half with 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting. Baylor
had the lead for good on Griner’s putback after she grabbed the
rebound of her only missed shot of the half.
”Just to see her skill set improve through the last four
years,” said Anna Prins, who led Iowa State with 20 points but
couldn’t get anything going until Baylor had the game in hand in
the second half. ”I felt like she couldn’t miss tonight.”
Odyssey Sims added 20 points for Baylor (32-1), including three
3-pointers in the first 4 minutes after halftime.
Moody followed Sims with 12 for the Cyclones (23-8) in a matchup
of the top two seeds in their first Big 12 title game since
Along with the last three Big 12 tournament titles, the Lady
Bears have gone undefeated through the league the last two regular
seasons for a 49-game conference winning streak. Their fifth Big 12
tournament title – all coming in a stretch that began in 2005, the
year of their first national title – broke a tie with Oklahoma for
the most in the league.
”Winning never gets old, especially this one,” said Griner,
one of five Baylor seniors. ”We wanted to celebrate this,
everybody did. This is our last go-around with the Big 12. Meant
everything to us.”
Baylor will surely be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA
tournament and will play its first games in two weeks on the Waco
campus, where they Lady Bears have won a nation-best 55 games in a
row. They have won 30 straight overall since losing against
Stanford at a tournament in Hawaii a week into the season.
Griner finished 14 of 17 shooting and had as many field goals as
Iowa State’s entire team when she came out of the game for good
with 4:12 left.
When Griner got near the Baylor bench, she shared a long hug
with coach Kim Mulkey while getting a large ovation from an adoring
crowd with the game being played only about 100 miles from the
”She’s the best player I’ve ever coached against,” Fennelly
said. ”You try a lot of different things. I think we’ve all tried
a lot of different things, and none of them have worked.”
Prins was coming off a career-high 32 points Sunday in the
Cyclones’ 79-60 semifinal victory over Oklahoma. She scored 17 in
the second half and finished 4 of 4 from 3-point range.
Moody ended up with nine of Iowa State’s 21 turnovers, seven of
them coming in the decisive first half.
”It was mostly just they pressure a lot on the outside,” Moody
said. ”It’s harder to pass the ball exactly where you want to. You
have to improvise and do different things.”
Baylor had a much tougher semifinal matchup, holding on for a
77-69 victory over Oklahoma State, which was within three in the
final minute after the Lady Bears had 18 of their season-high 24
turnovers after halftime. While they never trailed, it was their
only game against a Big 12 opponent this season decided by less
than 10 points.
The championship game was more like the kind of games Baylor has
had in its Big 12 run, a lopsided score with Griner playing a big
”I don’t think there’s any question that everyone kind of saw
that bear kind of came out of hibernation kind of thing,” Fennelly
Sims, the junior All-American point guard and only non-senior in
the Baylor starting lineup, responded emphatically after a making a
trio of 3-pointers in the second half.
There was a huge fist pump after one of them, then after sinking
her third from in front of the Baylor bench, Sims reached down and
patted the floor. That put the Lady Bears up 50-18 and Iowa State
called time out.