The season-high 12,871 fans that came out to watch the Texas Tech women’s basketball team take on No. 1 Baylor got quite a show Wednesday night in United Spirit Arena.
For the vast majority of them, though, it wasn’t the show they were hoping for.
Two-time All-American Brittney Griner dominated and dazzled — scoring a season-best 40 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking seven shots — in leading the top-ranked Lady Bears to a 90-60 victory against Texas Tech on Wednesday night.
“Obviously I think she’s trying to break the NCAA scoring record,” Tech coach Kristy Curry said. “She got a lot of looks tonight and credit her and her team for getting her the ball.”
Although Baylor’s stud center needs to average about 35 points per game the rest of the season (and have a deep postseason run) to set the all-time mark, Griner finished five points away from her personal scoring record, exiting the game with 2:34 left in the game after a two-handed dunk that ignited the Baylor bench.
The loss snaps a four-game win streak for the Lady Raiders, who simply didn’t have an answer for the 6-foot-8 Griner on either end of the court.
The center led a 50-18 points advantage in the paint and showed enough moxie inside to both outmaneuver opponents and dish the ball to the perimeter. Baylor shot just under 50 percent from the field (36 of 73), and limited Tech to 34.3 percent on the other end (23 of 67).
“They were making everything, so credit to them for making everything,” said Tech guard Casey Morris, who scored 11 points, “but what’s good about it is we get to play them again in Waco. So we’re just looking forward from this.”
While Griner played near-perfect basketball for the 37 minutes she played, Tech did not. Really, it would have difficult for any team to compete with the Lady Bears with the way their offense was clicking against a normally strong Tech defense.
Tech’s best response to the Big 12’s best defense and defender was a smattering of 3-pointers and some quick drives by Monique Smalls, but the Bears kept the Tech offense out of rhythm nearly all night thanks to the presence of Griner.
Griner, who became the Big 12 Conference’s all-time leading scorer 51 seconds into the game, scored 10 points in Baylor’s 18-4 game-opening run, putting the Lady Raiders in an early hole.
Tech (16-5, 6-3 in Big 12 play) has shown it could erase early deficits early this season, coming back to win when down 18-3 against Oklahoma State.
Once Baylor (19-1, 9-0) gets up by double digits, though, there’s almost no hope for any opponent — even one that knows what it takes to take down mighty Baylor.
Tech launched a counterattack of sorts once it got down by 14 early, hitting a quintet of 3-pointers to pull within 29-23 with 5:44 left in the first half.
Kelsi Baker hit a pair of 3-pointers during the run, as did 6-1 Jackie Patterson.
The two bigs haven’t shot from beyond the 3-point line much this season, but Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said she expected them to step back and rifle off outside shots.
“We kind of prepare for what you don’t see on film,” Mulkey said, “because with Griner being on the defensive end, such a presence, you just prepare for that. So it was not something that we didn’t expect to see, but we didn’t expect them to make those first three combined.”
But the Bears haven’t blown any semblance of a lead this season, and they weren’t about to let the Lady Raiders show them up.
Baylor finished the first half on a 12-4 run and opened the second half with scores on seven of its first eight possessions to pick right up where it left off.
Baker led Tech with 12 points, and Chynna Brown chipped in 10.
The Lady Raiders return to the court at 1 p.m. Saturday against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, hoping to rebound from their worst loss of the season.
“Our kids, in no form or fashion am I disappointed in them in any way,” Curry said. “I thought our kids gave everything that they had, and Baylor had a great night. We just didn’t have a near-perfect night, and that’s about what you have to have.”
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