This one was not close.
Well, it was close until the Lady Bears went on a 13-4 run 5 minutes into the first half, at which point their lead never shrank below 7 points. At the half, Baylor was up by 20, which was the same number of points made by Brittney Griner. Despite a slow (for the Lady Bears) start that could possibly be attributed to the two-week layoff between Big 12 Tournament and NCAA play, BU never looked less than the one-seed they are.
Baylor's defensive strength was in full effect the entire game, as they managed to force the Lady Panthers to throw up contested looks as the shot clock expired several times. Baylor grabbed 30 defensive rebounds from PVAMU, and blocked 10 total shots, while the defensive presence of Brittney Griner caused PV attackers to u-turn out of the paint more times than not.
Both Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims collected double-doubles tonight, with Griner scoring 33 points and grabbing 10 rebounds (3 assists, 1 steal, 6 blocks) and Sims putting up 12 points and 10 assists (5 steals). Griner also added her 15th career dunk, a turn-around one-handed slam that brought the near-full Ferrell Center crowd to their feet, and induced applause from fans of the Lady Bears and the Lady Panthers alike. The dunk served to electrify both the crowd and the team, and soon after Sims brought cheers by saving an almost kicked out of bounds fast-break to Brooklyn Pope and laying in the return pass to put Baylor up 62-28.
One of the best examples this year of Griner's improved court vision came in the early minutes of the second half. She was passed the ball to the left of the paint, and PV pulled the defender off Jordan Madden to collapse into a doubleteam on Griner. As a result, Griner simply dumped the ball to the then-open Madden for assist on the easy lay-in.
Griner was tied with Prairie View at 33 when she came out of the game for good with 6:44 left in the second half, and Baylor fans got to see Niya Johnson and Alexis Prince lead much of next year's team as they added 10 more points, keeping the score above double the Lady Panthers' total.
The atmosphere inside the Ferrell Center was fantastic for most of the game. You could tell that Waco loves the Lady Bears, and the crowd was close to capacity, though there were still some empty seats as the game tipped off, which was to be expected for a first round game. Though sometimes the Lady Bear home crowd can be known for being a bit quiet, tonight's crowd was energetic from the beginning. However, the worrying trend of half the crowd leaving with 5 minutes left continued, and only a few hundred people were left to sing "That Good Old Baylor Line" with the Courtside band and the Lady Bears.
With this win, the Lady Bears advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament, and will face the Florida State Seminoles at 8:30 PM on Tuesday. This will be this senior class' last game in the Ferrell Center, and there will most likely be a sell-out crowd to see Brittney Griner play one last time in Waco.