Women’s hoops season starts with 14 ranked games
A couple of the biggest stars in women’s basketball helped their
top teams cruise to easy victories as the season got under way
No. 1 Baylor routed Howard 82-28, scoring the game’s first 28
points, and second-ranked Notre Dame forced 46 turnovers to beat
Akron 81-61. The top two teams are on a collision course to meet in
the Preseason WNIT final next Sunday.
”It’s like where did my summer go, it’s hard to believe it’s
here again,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. ”But at the same time,
it’s exciting. You’re excited to get another season started.”
Preseason All-Americans Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins got
off to fast starts. The 6-foot-8 Griner had 22 points, 13 rebounds
and eight blocks for the Lady Bears. Diggins had 21 points and
eight assists for the Irish.
During a pregame ceremony, the Lady Bears unveiled three more
banners in the rafters – one each for their Big 12 regular-season
championship, Big 12 tournament title and making it to another NCAA
Before Baylor’s starting lineup was introduced, the lights went
down and a video played on the screen over midcourt. It was a
pre-recorded segment of Mulkey in the locker room with her team,
talking about the 34 wins last season being most in Big 12 history
and reminding the players that they didn’t get the ultimate
”That’s probably a pretty realistic pregame, preseason speech
with a few choice words missing,” Mulkey said following her 299th
career victory. ”For the most part, I was very comfortable doing
it because that’s our message. We didn’t finish what we started
last year. … If you’re any kind of competitor, you want to
remember that feeling.”
Notre Dame also fell short of its goal last season, losing in
the NCAA title game. The Irish struggled offensively in the opener
against Akron, committing 27 turnovers, and were outrebounded
44-38, but their defense was way too much for the Zips.
”We lost the last (NCAA championship) game last year,” Diggins
said. ”Maybe we were trying to win the championship game tonight,
because we were playing tight.”
The only matchup of the 15 ranked teams that played Friday was
No. 5 Stanford’s 72-59 victory at 24th-ranked Texas. The Cardinal
were missing senior star Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who was held out of the
game with an upper body injury. Ogwumike was on the bench but not
”I think this was an excellent test for our team,” Stanford
coach Tara VanDerveer said. ”They gave us a great battle.”
Eighth-ranked Duke had the toughest test, needing to rally to
beat BYU 61-55. Sophomore guard Chelsea Gray scored 13 of her 15
points in the second half and had a career-high six steals.
Miami, the Blue Devils’ ACC rival, easily won its opener. The
seventh-ranked Hurricanes beat Texas-Pan American 83-37 for their
25th straight home win.
The Hurricanes, who have their best ranking since they finished
the 1992 poll at No. 6, were led by their first preseason
All-American Shenise Johnson. She had 20 points, 13 rebounds and
In a non-ranked game, Villanova beat Michigan State 75-64 in the
Iona tournament. It was the 599th win for Wildcats coach Harry
Perretta, who will try to become the 22nd Division I coach to reach
600 victories on Saturday when Villanova takes on the host
”It just really means I’ve been here for a while,” Perretta
said. ”Coaches don’t win games, players do, and I’ve been blessed
to have some really good players.”
Villanova only averaged 51 points last season and Perretta
credits the offensive outburst to finally having more depth.
”We actually have a bunch of players who can score,” he said.
”We don’t have to slow things down.”
Iona topped North Carolina A&T 85-69 in the opener that
began at 11:11 a.m.
AP Basketball Writer Stephen Hawkins in Waco, Texas contributed
to this report.
Doug Feinberg can be reached at