Brittney Griner took five dribbles, spun the ball backwards with both hands and dropped it through the net for the 2,836th career point, the most ever scored by a Big 12 Conference women’s basketball player.
There were plenty more to come.
Only 51 seconds had passed in Wednesday’s game between Texas Tech and Baylor, but the 6-foot-8, two-time All-American had already asserted her presence on the way to a season-high 40-point, 15-rebound, seven-block performance in the Lady Bears’ 90-60 victory.
Just another sterling outing from the most dominating figure women’s college basketball has ever seen.
“When she came to Baylor four years ago,” her coach Kim Mulkey said, “I told everybody to buy tickets. You’re never going to see anything like her again.”
Griner topped off the fourth 40-point game of her career by throwing down her NCAA record 12th career dunk, a two-handed slam with about two minutes left in the game.
Kristy Curry’s staff has game planned as well as any other in the league the last three seasons when it comes to defending Griner. The Lady Raiders are the last team to defeat Baylor in conference play, a 56-45 triumph in Lubbock back in February 2011. Last season, Tech lost to the Lady Bears by eight points at home and by five points in Waco, by far Baylor’s narrowest margins of victory in league play en route to a 40-0 season and a national championship.
The plan is to front Griner before she touches the ball, not allow her to back her way too deep into the post before receiving the entry pass. But even with multiple defenders draped around her, Griner’s wingspan — and deft touch — allows her to shoot over the top, as she did often on the way to 19 points in the first half.
And make no mistake: It doesn’t hurt to literally be head and shoulders above the competition.
“She’s 6-(foot)-8,” Tech coach Curry said simply when asked what allowed Griner to find a bevy of easy looks Wednesday.
Griner said her biggest improvement since arriving in Waco as a ballyhooed freshman is her awareness.
“Just feeling where the defender is on my back and being conscious of that,” she said. “That tells me which move to use.”
And Tech wasn’t always out of the woods when Griner missed. The Bears grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, several of those on the weak side where there were no Tech players available to clean the glass after closing out hard on Griner.
The Lady Raiders did their best to neutralize Griner’s effectiveness on the defensive end by searching for offense on the perimeter. It worked briefly. Tech hit five 3-pointers in the first half, including a trey from Casey Morris that cut the Baylor lead to 29-23 with about six minutes left in the first half.
That was as close as Tech would get. The Big 12’s all-time leading scorer was just too much to handle. She scored in a myriad fashions — turnaround jumpers, spin moves inside and rebound putbacks. She shot 17 of 25 from the field and dished out four assists for good measure.
“If you asked me how to attack her,” Mulkey said, “I wouldn’t know what to tell you.”
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