Kelsi Baker knows Brittney Griner is a force to be reckoned with.
At 6-foot-8 with a 7-4 wingspan, Griner practically takes up the whole paint, Baker said.
But that doesn’t mean Baker, or any of her teammates, will be intimidated from the nation’s most dominant player on Wednesday.
“She’s 6-8, you’re right, but she can’t block every shot,” said Baker, who will be tasked with defending Griner and finding ways to score against her. “I mean, if she gets 10 blocks, so what? We’re still going to shoot 50 shots. So we just got to go into the game being confident and knowing we got to attack her.”
The Lady Raiders (16-4, 6-2 in Big 12 Conference play) host No. 1 Baylor (18-1, 8-0) at 7 p.m. tonight in Griner’s farewell tour of the Big 12.
Griner, who Tech coach Kristy Curry called the most dominating player she has seen in women’s college basketball “by far”, set the all-time record in career blocks this past weekend — men’s or women’s.
Griner needs three points to set the all-time scoring mark in Big 12 play. Former Oklahoma State guard Andrea Riley (2007-2010) is the current record holder with 2,835 points.
The Lady Bears have run through opponents all year long, with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 4 Stanford, 71-69.
Baylor’s closest Big 12 game was a 15-point win against Iowa State one week ago.
Still, Baker relishes the challenge of taking on the top-ranked team in the nation.
“I think people see Brittney Griner and people see Baylor,” Baker said, “and they get intimidated and they get scared and they change how they play. We just want to be aggressive going into the game. We want to be confident, and we want to play with a lot of toughness like we’ve been playing all year.”
Tech is on a four-game winning streak and is off to its best conference start in eight years.
“Momentum’s always good,” Curry said. “Obviously the confidence and the pop in the kids’ step and the smile on the kids’ faces — that’s what winning does, is it gives you confidence for the next one, for the next one.”
Although Griner gets showered with attention — by opposing coaches, players and the media — the supporting cast is what makes the Bears the near-unanimous No. 1 team in the nation.
Two years ago, when the Lady Raiders upset the Lady Bears, 56-45, in United Spirit Arena, Tech limited Baylor’s two top scoring threats besides Griner (Destiny Williams and Odyssey Sims) to a combined 3 of 22 shooting. Sims, Griner and Williams are all seniors now.
Tech is the last Big 12 team to defeat Baylor in a regular-season game.
Casey Morris, only a sophomore then, scored a 13 points and played all 40 minutes in Tech’s upset victory back in 2011.
She said the team was composed last time around, and the mental aspect of the game will play in more than the physical. She said the Lady Raiders need to “outsmart” the Lady Bears on both ends of the court to duplicate that kind of success.
“We can’t only focus on Brittney Griner,” Morris said. “We have to know that there’s more athletes on the team and they have a lot of skill players. We have to respect their game just as much as we respect her’s.”
Read the story about the famous punch in 2010 here.
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