Baylor center Brittney Griner, top, dunks the ball over Iowa State center Anna Prins during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 11:22 pm
No. 1 Baylor women beat No. 24 Iowa State 66-51
The Associated Press
And yes, she's paying attention.
Griner scored 22 points, blocked six shots and dunked for the 11th time in her career in leading top-ranked Baylor past No. 24 Iowa State 66-51 on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-8 senior had four blocks in the game's first 7:11 in helping her team open an early 15-point lead and ran her career total to 657. She needs just seven more to break the NCAA record of 663 by Louella Tomlinson of Saint Mary's.
"Normally, I really don't pay attention to such things," Griner said. "But blocked shots are my favorite thing, my favorite part of the game. I look every now and then."
Baylor (17-1, 7-0 Big 12) took control early, running off 17 straight points in the first half while holding Iowa State scoreless for 11 1/2 minutes. The Cyclones (13-4, 4-3) had taken a quick 6-4 lead on a pair of 3-pointers, but didn't score again until Baylor was up 21-6.
Griner triggered the big run when she picked off a pass intended for Anna Prins, drove unimpeded to the other end and threw down a two-handed dunk -- just one more slam for the most prolific dunker in women's college basketball history.
"I thought it was good. It energized us," Griner said. "I wish I would have made my other shots like I made that dunk."
Griner, who sat out the final 6:50 after picking up her fourth foul, shot what for her was a mediocre 9-for-20. But she grabbed eight rebounds and even ventured out to the perimeter to block a 3-point shot by Nikki Moody.
"She's such an amazing basketball player," Iowa State's Anna Prins said. "Just every aspect of her game has improved so much since freshman year. Her footwork, the way she sets her player up, the way she keeps the ball high before she turns, she's so hard to guard."
Odyssey Sims added 12 points and Alexis Prince 11 for Baylor, which won its 29th straight regular season conference game.
The Lady Bears got it done typical fashion. They played harassing defense that created turnovers or forced the Cyclones into awkward shots and Griner dominated in the middle, hitting a variety of turnaround jumpers and intimidating shooters who ventured into the lane.
Baylor held Iowa State to 36 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers, including three early shot clock violations that set the tone on the defensive end. Iowa State managed only three field goals in the first 16 1/2 minutes, but the Cyclones settled down after halftime and made a run at the Lady Bears.
"We're going to guard you," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "I thought our 2-2-1 (defense) helped us from having to be in a halfcourt defense against an Iowa State team that picks you to death and controls tempo. We wanted to extend to when we got it in the frontcourt, they didn't have 30 seconds on the shot block to run us all over the floor."
Prins, a 6-7 senior who held her own against Griner, led Iowa State with 17 points and Brynn Williamson scored 11, all in the second half.
Iowa State did keep Baylor to a season-low point total by slowing the pace to shorten the game. But with the Cyclones struggling to score, it didn't matter in the end.
"It's called basketball for a reason," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "You have to make shots."
The Lady Bears make that difficult and they have a way of making plays that can break an opponent's will.
Late in the first half, Sims swiped the ball from Moody, drove for a layup and missed. But she corralled the rebound and scored on the putback.
After Iowa State's Hallie Christofferson hit a baseline jumper cut the lead to 28-16, Baylor called time with 2.4 seconds left in the first half. The Lady Bears inbounded to Griner at halfcourt, she turned and fired the ball to Sims on the left wing and the junior guard buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Down by as many as 18, Iowa State drew to 31-18 when Prins scored inside against Griner, and trailed just 43-31 when Chelsea Poppens got free for a layup with 11:05 remaining.
Baylor answered with a 23-11 to end any upset threat, finishing that burst with Griner on the bench.
The Lady Bears' previous low for the season came in a 67-39 victory over Iowa State in Waco on Jan. 9.