No. 2 Baylor 81, Liberty 42

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.”