No. 16 Louisville 82, No. 1 Baylor 81
To take down Brittney Griner and seemingly invincible Baylor,
Louisville played a carefree offense, an unconventional defense and
got one fearless final play against one of women’s basketball’s
greatest players ever.
Monique Reid made two free throws after getting fouled by Griner
on a desperation drive with 2.6 seconds left, lifting the
fifth-seeded Cardinals to an 82-81 victory and one of the biggest
upsets in the history of the tournament.
”It’s an amazing feeling,” said Reid, a 69 percent foul
shooter. ”It was great that I could actually hit those clutch free
throws. I just wanted to get on top of a building and scream!”
Considered a lock for the Final Four – and prohibitive favorites
to win a second straight championship – Griner and her Lady Bears
(34-2) had won 32 straight games – and 74 of 75, including last
season’s unprecedented 40-0 run to the championship.
But the 6-foot-8 star didn’t make a basket until the second
half, then committed the foul that gave Louisville a chance to
”I saw Griner coming at me and I was like, `I’m going to have
to get past her.’ I tried to make the layup and she took my head
off,” Reid said.
Louisville will play Tennessee in the regional final on Tuesday
night for a berth in the Final Four. The Cardinals are trying to
get back for the first time since losing in the 2009 title
Odyssey Sims scored 29 points, including two free throws with
9.1 seconds to go that gave Baylor its only lead at 81-80. Sims had
one more chance to save the season, but she was off-target and late
on a desperation heave.
Sims dropped to the floor after her miss, pulling her jersey
over her face and kicking her legs as she lay flat on her back.
Griner squatted near her and slapped the floor with both hands
before pulling Sims up to her feet.
It was a stunning end of a remarkable college career for Griner,
the second-highest scoring player in NCAA history. She also holds
the career records for blocks and dunks.
”I’m just sad,” Griner said. ”I didn’t do what I needed to do
to get my team to the Elite Eight and just disappointment in
Griner, who had averaged 33 points in Baylor’s first two games
in the tournament, didn’t make a basket until she converted a
putback with 15:20 left in the second half. She wound up with 14
points and 10 rebounds, making only four of her 10 shots and being
a relative non-factor for her considerable stature.
Louisville surrounded Griner as she has been most of her career,
using a zone defense Louisville coach Jeff Walz called the ”claw
He put one player in front of Griner and another behind her, and
often another one in the vicinity.
”I think I could smell what toothpaste she used,” Antonita
Slaughter said. ”I was in her face the whole time with my hands
Unusually, Griner’s teammates were unable to hit outside shots
and relieve the pressure.
Before the game, Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey had said she didn’t
know what defense the Cardinals run and even Louisville’s players
admitted to being confused often.
”Most of the time we just scramble and it works out for us,”
The Cardinals went 16 for 25 from 3-point range, tying the NCAA
tournament mark for 3-pointers reached by four other teams and
making the most ever in the regional semifinals or beyond.
Louisville had been shooting just 31 percent on 3-pointers.
Slaughter hit seven 3-pointers for 21 points and Shoni Schimmel had
five 3s and 22 points as the Cardinals scored 11 more points than
any other Baylor opponent this season.
”Our goal was to score, score and score. I told our kids if we
had to take 40 to 50 3s we would,” Walz said. ”I don’t know if we
could go out there right now 5-on-0 and go 16 of 25, but we did it
in the biggest game of the year for us and now we’re going to
hopefully keep our momentum going and see what we can do on
The win made it quite a day for the school – hours earlier, the
men’s team from Louisville beat Duke 85-63 to reach the Final Four.
Walz spoke to the team before the game about the gruesome leg
injury suffered by Kevin Ware in the men’s game, telling them that
basketball is still a game.
Afterward, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant joined the
”I told our kids in the locker room before the game, we’ve got
to turn this thing into a street ball game. You’ve got to drive and
kick for 3s and try to make it fun. There was no pressure on us,”
”We came out and did that, and I’m honored to coach this group
of young ladies.”
The Lady Bears had been practically invincible for the past four
months since losing to Stanford on Nov. 16. Baylor, which went 40-0
last season, had won the next 32 straight games mostly by double
It’s no surprise that the Louisville women were a 24-point
underdog to Baylor in Las Vegas casinos, according to gambling
expert R.J. Bell of Pregame.com. Odds on Louisville to win outright
were 75-1, paying $7,500 on a $100 wager, Bell said.
Instead, Louisville led by as much as 19 and was up 74-57 with
7:42 to play.
It was Sims who eventually led Baylor’s attempted comeback,
after the Cardinals’ run of 3-pointers finally came to an end.
Sims hit a pair of free throws and then got a steal in the
backcourt for a layup that got Baylor back within a dozen, and the
Lady Bears put together a 19-4 run to get within striking distance
in the final 2 minutes.
Walz was called for a technical foul for arguing after he
watched a scoreboard replay of an offensive foul whistled against
Bria Smith, with a Baylor defender sliding under her after she took
Sims hit the resulting free throws and then a runner to get the
Lady Bears within 78-76 with 1:49 to play.
She then answered Megan Deines’ layup off a baseline inbounds
play with a 3-pointer to cut it to one with 35.8 seconds left. She
then hit two free throws to put Baylor ahead after Jude Schimmel
fumbled an inbounds pass under her own basket, Griner picked it up
and passed it to Sims.
The Lady Bears still couldn’t close it out.
”It’s a tough way to lose,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
”It’s hard to lose when it’s your last game, but it’s even harder
the way that game ended. Makes it a little tougher.”
Mulkey criticized the game officials, saying she didn’t care if
she got fined, even after Louisville was called for 23 fouls
compared to 14 for the Lady Bears.
The Cardinals also had three starters foul out. Griner said she
thought she got all ball on Reid’s final drive.
”I thought the game started out way too physical, way too
physical,” Mulkey said. ”I thought that all three of them, if
they go past this round of officiating, it will be sad for the
Walz had his own complaints, saying he was dumbfounded at the
fifth foul calls that disqualified two of his starters. In all,
three Cardinals fouled out.
”I was just thankful on that last drive when Monique Reid went
in for the layup,” Walz said. ”It was a late whistle, but I was
sure glad he called it because she got clobbered.”