Griner, Baylor blast West Virginia
WACO, Texas -- Brittney Griner had her 50th career double-double while just missing a triple-double, scoring 26 points with 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots, as top-ranked Baylor beat Big 12 newcomer West Virginia 76-58 on Saturday night.
Griner appeared to have her 10th block at one point but officials whistled West Virginia for a travel on the play. The 6-foot-8 two-time All-American didn't play the final 4 minutes.
"Great atmosphere, great crowd and a great place to play," WVU coach Mike Carey said. "I thought we competed for the most part. We missed a lot of foul shots. (Brittney) Griner is the best player in the country bar none."
Odyssey Sims had 15 points and seven assists for Baylor (16-1, 6-0 Big 12), which won its record 28th consecutive regular season conference game. The Lady Bears have also won 49 games in a row at the Ferrell Center, the nation's longest active home winning streak.
Christal Caldwell led West Virginia (11-6, 3-3) with 22 points. Taylor Palmer scored 17, and Crystal Leary had 11 rebounds.
After West Virginia got a 3-pointer from Palmer 22 seconds into the game, Baylor responded with a 20-2 run. Griner had 10 points in that streak, and Sims had eight with two three-point plays.
By the first media timeout only 5 minutes into the game, the Lady Bears had already surged ahead 15-5 and West Virginia has as many turnovers as points.
Griner, who finished 11-of-17 shooting, had 18 points and eight rebounds by halftime. Sims had 12 points at the break, when Baylor led 40-24.
With her nine blocks, Griner increased her career total to 651, 13 shy of breaking the NCAA career record.
"We turned them over like we felt we could 19 times. We didn't get out-rebounded that bad and we tried not to miss foul shots and limit our turnovers, but Brittney (Griner) hit some big shots," Carey said. "She just opens up so many more people on the floor that you really wouldn't have to help off of, but then they become effective and start getting hot."
Baylor's home winning streak includes an 82-68 win over West Virginia in an NCAA tournament second-round game two years ago. Griner had 30 points and eight blocks in that game, even while sitting out the last 9 minutes of the first half after two fouls.
West Virginia ended Baylor's big run with six points in a row in a span of 36 seconds, capped by Caldwell and Jess Harlee turning consecutive steals into breakaway baskets in only 15 seconds.
But Griner quickly responded with six points in a row of her own and by the next timeout with 8 minutes left in the first half, Griner already had 16 points - one more than West Virginia at the time, when Baylor led 26-15.
The Mountaineers had won three in a row since opening their first Big 12 schedule with losses against Oklahoma and Kansas.
Ayana Dunning, who was averaging 10.8 points a game for West Virginia, finished scoreless with four fouls in 23 minutes. She was 0-for-8 shooting, including five from 3-point range.
West Virginia sophomore guard Akilah Bethel was carried off the court with just more than 2 minutes to go. She grabbed her left knee after falling to the floor on a drive to the basket, though the extent of her injury wasn't immediately known.