USA TODAY Sports
In front of a record crowd in Dallas, Texas, the #1-ranked Lady Bears dominated the Iowa State Cyclones, securing not only a sweep of the Big 12 WBB championships this season, but the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, as well.
When Brittney Griner walked off the court to a standing ovation with about 4:00 to go tonight, she did so after having put on yet another game for the ages, with 31 points on 14-17 shooting (both the number of made field goals and the percentage were records for the game), 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks. From the point that Baylor actually trailed 6-5, the game was never really in doubt again, as the Lady Bears went on a 12-0 run and held Iowa State to 7 more points in the entire first half. Stated differently: Iowa State scored 7 points in the last 15+ minutes of the first half. Baylor scored 36. The Cyclones (Lady Cyclones?) were never in the game again and knew it. There's a level of dominance above simply defeating your opponent where you actually rob them of their will to continue fighting. Fans of Baylor Football have seen it more recently than ever before with the way our offense grinds defenses down through tempo and sheer physicality. Outside of the outstanding Anna Prins, that's what happened to Iowa State.
Baylor fans have, at most, 6 more games to revel in the type of dominance we saw tonight, where Kim Mulkey's squad rebounded from an extremely poor game against Oklahoma State (that they still won) to show why they are the #1 team in the land. The defense this team is capable of is almost astounding, and as we all know, it starts in the middle with the 6'8" Griner. We'll have to alter our expectations in future seasons to her absence, but I'm confident that Mulkey, undoubtedly the best coach Baylor has at this point and arguably has ever had, will get the job done. The team will look different but still be quite good. We know that much by now.
When Griner leaves Baylor six games from now (six wins, hopefully), she will do so as either the best or simply one of the best women to ever play her sport. Whether she will also do so as the single greatest athlete in Baylor history is an argument we can have another day. Cherish her and this team, Baylor fans. What you saw tonight was a sample of how good they can be, and we're not going to get many more opportunities to see it.
Huge props, as well, to Odyssey Sims, who we will get to see another year and was named to her second consecutive All-Tournament team. This is going to be her team next year.
|Baylor Lady Bears|