No. 2 Baylor 65, No. 6 Tennessee 54
Brittney Griner charged out toward Taber Spani on the wing,
blocked her shot and howled. Then Griner turned toward the dozens
of football players sitting under the basket and transformed from a
ferocious 6-foot-8 post player to just another college
She smiled and gave a little wave.
Griner and the second-ranked Lady Bears gave everyone in a
record crowd plenty to cheer about Tuesday night in a 65-54 victory
over No. 6 Tennessee that wasn’t nearly as close as it looks.
Griner had 21 points and nine blocks, and provided an obstacle
for the Lady Vols on every possession. Brooklyn Pope swatted four
more shots and freshman Odyssey Sims led Baylor with a season-high
Note to the rest of women’s basketball: Sims is a freshman,
Griner and Pope are sophomores. So they are all still getting
”They were just too tough for us,” Tennessee coach Pat Summitt
said. ”We didn’t match their intensity the way we needed to.”
Fans lined up more than three hours before tipoff, excited by
the matchup and lured by free bobbleheads of coach Kim Mulkey. A
total of 10,569 folks crammed into the Ferrell Center, the most
ever for a basketball game at Baylor, men’s or women’s. The crowd
gave Summitt a standing ovation and polite applause as she made her
way to the bench for pregame warmups, then were on their feet the
rest of the game.
The Lady Bears led the entire way. With Griner swatting shots
and altering others, the Lady Vols missed their first eight shots
of the game and their last eight of the first half. At halftime,
Tennessee had eight baskets and Griner had six blocks.
Baylor closed the first half with an 11-0 run. The Lady Bears
led by at least seven points the rest of the way, although they
were never able to stretch it beyond 15. That inability was
Mulkey’s biggest regret on an otherwise impressive night.
”Any moment you kept waiting for it to get bigger and bigger,”
Mulkey said. ”We’ll get better.”
Meighan Simmons scored 22 points for Tennessee and Angie
Bjorklund scored 10. But that was really it. Nobody else scored
more than five.
”I think we learned that we have a long ways to go,” Bjorklund
said. ”We have to stay positive, get back in the gym and learn
from our mistakes. I think this was a good test for us.”
The Lady Vols made 18 field goals and had 13 shots blocked.
Their shooting percentage was .250, the lowest for any Baylor
opponent all season – which is saying something considering other
non-conference foes have included Montana State, Texas Southern,
Liberty and Southeastern Louisiana.
”I’ve played Pat-coached teams since 1980 and I’m not sure any
team I’ve been affiliated with any that has held them to 25 percent
shooting,” Mulkey said. ”That’s a glaring stat. We take pride in
Griner said she thinks she’s a little better shot-blocker than
she was last season. Again, that’s saying something considering she
set the NCAA Division I season record.
She acknowledged she was fired up by the crowd, including those
”They were in my ear the whole game, talking to me and pumping
me up,” she said. ”It wasn’t anyone in particular. I definitely
recognized a couple of voices.”
Star quarterback Robert Griffin and all-conference safety Byron
Landor swept the court during one break, with Griffin taking a
microphone and firing everyone up by saying, ”We’re here to
support the Lady Bears. We know you’re here to support the Lady
Bears. This is our house!”
At game’s end, Mulkey got the microphone and told the crowd,
”Thanks for doing this. … Football team, go win a bowl game.
This was Baylor’s third victory against a ranked team. The only
loss for the Lady Bears was by one point at No. 1 Connecticut.
Tennessee’s other loss was by 11 points to Georgetown, which is
now No. 20.
”It was a great environment and the fans were very obviously
very into it,” Summitt said. ”I like that. I love to go on the
road when you’ve got a packed house and see how our team responds.
It’s good for us.”