Make no mistake; the Baylor Bears are an impressive basketball team. Led by the unparalleled Brittney Griner, the Bears stormed out to a big lead just minutes into the Sunday afternoon game and eventually came out on top 77-59.
"I think we always come out with a lot of energy," said Texas coach Gail Goestenkors. "I just thought we didn't sustain that energy in the second half."
The Bears led by as much as 28 points in the second half, with Griner to thank for the majority of the offensive explosion. Just to make sure she remained among the nation's leaders in points and rebounds per game, the 6-foot-8 junior added 13 rebounds and 32 points to attain her 35th career double-double. Another Bears' junior, Destiny Williams, also poured on 21 points of her own, as well as recording 14 rebounds.
"They had more offensive rebounds combined than I've ever seen them in their careers," said Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey. "[Brittney Griner] was pretty special today."
Texas was in striking distance for much of the first half but Griner and Co. proved to be too much for the Longhorns to handle inside the paint. For the first time this season the Bears failed to connect on even one three-point shot and were 0-10 from beyond the arc for the day. Of their 77 points, the Bears scored 58 in the paint. That's due in large part to the offensive prowess of Griner that opponents have to respect. She's quite possibly the best women's basketball player ever. A player doesn't just average a double-double on accident, all while blocking more shots than anyone in Baylor history (393 and counting).
"She's got a variety of moves," said freshman Nneka Enemkpali, who was forced to guard Griner for the majority of the game due to Cokie Reed's right leg injury that kept her from playing against the Bears. "She can shoot over either shoulder, and her team is better at finding her, too."
There weren't many bright spots in the game for the Longhorns, besides the second half play from guard Chassidy Fussell. The sophomore connected on 7-of-19 shots and scored 20 points to lead all Texas players.
"Our defense leads our offense every game, and that didn't happen today," said Fussell.
Senior Ashley Gayle, not known for her scoring touch, added 12 points to the cause but it was too little, way too late for Texas. Gayle also got in to some early foul trouble and had to sit, leaving Anne Marie Hartung and Enemkpali with the task of stopping Griner.
"It's going to be a long day if you're two posts down against Baylor," said Goestenkors.
Baylor held a 51 to 38 rebounding advantage over Texas for the game and essentially dominated from tip-off. This is easily the most polished team Texas has, and probably will face all year.
The Longhorns will look to get back on track when they face Iowa State this Wednesday at the Erwin Center.