No. 1 Baylor Holds Off No. 11 Texas A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims scored 25 points each and top-ranked Baylor used a late run to hold off No. 17 Texas A&M for a 69-62 win on Monday night.
Baylor (30-0, 17-0 Big 12) led by one point before going on a 6-0 run that was aided unintentionally by an official. Griner made a jump shot before Kimetria Hayden knocked the ball out of Alexia Standish's hands. With the ball almost sure to go out of bounds, it bounced off an official and remained on the court, setting up a layup by Sims before Hayden added a basket to make it 67-60 with 1:39 remaining.
It was a much more competitive game than the first meeting between these teams when Baylor won 71-48.
Tyra White's 14 points led A&M (20-8, 11-6).
Griner and Sims were both in foul trouble on Monday and Griner sat out for long stretches in both halves because of it. Sims picked up her fourth foul with more than 7 minutes left, but she never came out, playing 40 minutes.
Texas A&M alternated 6-foot-4 Kelsey Bone and 6-5 Karla Gilbert to try and slow Griner. They both got in foul trouble early in the second half. Gilbert fouled out with about 12 minutes remaining and Bone picked up her fourth just seconds later, sending her to the bench.
Things were evened out about a minute later when Griner picked up her fourth foul knocking Kelsey Assarian down on the offensive end and the Baylor star also left the game.
While both teams were in foul trouble in this one, the difference came at the free throw line. Baylor made 23 of its 28 attempts, while Texas A&M hit just 9 of 19, with White missing six of her 10 tries.
Sydney Carter added 13 points, Adaora Elonu had 12 points and Bone had 10 for A&M. Destiny Williams had 12 rebounds and three steals for Baylor.
Baylor used a 6-2 run, with all of its points coming on free throws, to go up 58-53 with about 7 minutes left. Griner re-entered the game about a minute later, but A&M got going again going on a 7-3 run to cut the lead to 61-60 with 3 1/2 to go.
Baylor led 45-43 after a 3-pointer by Hayden with about 15 minutes left. Carter put A&M back on top with a 3 soon after that, but Griner scored five straight points to give Baylor a 50-46 lead with about 11 minutes remaining.
The Aggies opened the second half with a 7-1 run to take their first lead of the game, 38-37, with just under 17 minutes remaining.
The Lady Bears led by 14 points when Griner went to the bench with about 6 minutes left in the first half. The Aggies took advantage of Griner's absence and went on a 17-8 run to close to gap to 36-31 at halftime. Elonu scored 10 points for A&M in that span.
Up next, Texas A&M plays its final game of the regular season at Texas on Sunday, March 4. Tipoff is set for noon on FSN.
• For the 15th time this season, Texas A&M used the starting lineup of Alexia Standish, Sydney Carter, Tyra White, Adaora Elonu and Kelsey Bone…The Aggies are 10-5 with this starting lineup.
• The Aggies move to 36-49 in the all-time series with Baylor and are 18-17 when playing the Lady Bears in Aggieland.
• The Aggies are 6-4 on national TV this season.
• Nine of the last 10 contests against Baylor have been close, being decided by nine points or less.
• The Aggies shot 46.4 percent Monday, the best any team has shot against Baylor this season. In addition, A&M shot 52 percent from the floor in the first half.
• A&M outscored Baylor in the paint, 40-30, to mark the largest margin BU has been outscored in the paint this season. It was only the second time Baylor had been outscored in the paint this year.
• White has now started in 86 straight games, a streak that started on Jan. 4, 2010 against Lamar.
• White scored in double figures for the 24th time this season, Bone for the 20th time, Elonu for the 18th and Carter for the 16th.
• This is the only game A&M has lost this season when four or more players scored in double figures.
• The crowd of 10,265 was A&M’s largest this season and the third-best single game attendance in program history.
A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
Was the plan to attack the goal?
The plan was to attack and show no fear. That’s what you have to do. Too many people live and die with jump shots. You have to go with what brought you here. That’s not the only team that’s going to be in the NCAA tournament. We were able to get her (Griner) in foul trouble by attacking. It was a little bit of the game plan. Look at my four post players going 14-19. We lost the game at the free throw line and on offensive boards.
Did you take advantage when Griner went out in the first half?
We took advantage; our shooters were getting a little bit more. We were running a little bit of everything. We ran a lot of middle screens. They’re so good at denying the wings and not letting us run our weave offense, so we had to keep changing who we had at the point. We got Tyra a couple of looks; Carter had a couple of looks. We’ve got to do more than 5-16 and 5-14. Give them (Baylor) credit, they contest shots very well.
Was the ball that went off the official a momentum swing?
We didn’t have any easy baskets. Odyssey makes that play to start the ball game and suckers Tyra White into that steal. That’s why she’s the best defensive point in our league and Carter is right with her. You just saw the two best. It was a huge momentum.
On Karla Gilbert getting her fifth foul in the second half
I couldn’t play them both (Bone and Gilbert). As quick as they are, we couldn’t have guarded Williams and Pope with two bigs in there. We had to have a smaller player to match with their quickness and rebounding. They did a good job, both of them.
Do you think the gap is closing between these two teams?
Sure. We’ve gotten better since we got embarrassed in Waco. We’ve gotten better as a basketball team. But this is still a team that is a work in progress; we have to screen better, all those little things. Screen better, hit your free throws and convert your transition baskets when you have the opportunity. That’s what we’re going to have to do.
On the game
It was a great game. I’m sorry we didn’t sell it out, but I’m happy for the 10,256 that showed up because it was the best basketball game that’s been played in here this year. Let’s give a little bit of credit to our team for how hard we played and how active the crowd was. I was proud of my fans. I’m proud of them for fighting with us.
JUNIOR CENTER KELSEY BONE
On the play that the ball bounced off the official
It’s just one of those things. We see one thing; it might’ve been something else. Its basketball and its part of the game and we just have to keep playing through it. No matter what, as a team we’re always going to believe in ourselves.
On dealing with foul trouble
The good thing about it was it was both ways. I think you can live with that. There are some things where as post players, we have to go back to the drawing board and work on our screens. But overall, we can’t hang our heads, we have to come back and be ready to play next week.
On attacking the post
Brittney is a great player, but we knew we had to attack. We’ve not been the greatest team with the outside shot this year. That’s a part of our game, so we couldn’t let her size or our fear of getting our shots blocked affect us. Once we went in there with no reservations, we were able to knock down shots. I think the success we got when we attacked the basket early was great because that became our game plan, to go in there and make something happen.
SENIOR GUARD SYDNEY CARTER
On attacking the basket when Griner left the game in the first half
We were just attacking the basket. When Griner came out with foul trouble, we knew we could go inside. They didn’t have that big stop sign in there to block everyone’s shots. We were just attacking the basket and we were making layups. We just went into attack mode.
On the tough start to the game
I think you could say high anticipation. We were so anxious to get out there and so anxious play and to prove that we can play at the level that they play at. We were rushing some shots and I think the anxiety took over us. We needed to calm down and say it’s just a basketball game and we’ve been doing this all year. We had some fight to get back into it and that really carried us with some momentum in the second half.
Do you think this team has grown?
Most definitely. You see what we did, obviously everyone can see we’re growing as a team. We lost by 23 points last time, and we only lost by 7 and we were in it the entire game. You see what you did right and you keep working on those things and you keep getting better. Then you see the areas where you have problems. Against Baylor, we have to stay out of foul trouble, make free throws and attack the basket. We just have to keep the foot on the gas and show no mercy to anyone.
On the loss
A loss always stings. I’m a sore loser. Any time we lose a game, whether it’s Baylor or any other game it always stings. We’re a team that’s not going to hang our heads on it. We got four shots at them last year, and we kept growing. We’ll just use this and take it as momentum into the next couple games. If we see them again, we’ll see what we did right and we’ll try to make those things even better.
BAYLOR HEAD COACH KIM MULKEY
On bringing out Hayden and Griner in the first half
I made the decision to take BG and (Hayden) out and weather the storm. Our basketball team has been through tough games, not necessarily just this year, but as they’ve grown up and they’ve handled it really well.
What gave A&M fire to play so closely?
I think the atmosphere, I think them being the defending national champions, I think it being the last time we’ll play here. I think two teams battling. That’s what you do—you compete.
On A&M stepping up its game when Griner left
I think you saw A&M’s intensity and the whole group on that floor- it’s like they took it up another level when Griner comes off the floor. When she comes off the floor it was like “oh boy, we can start doing things we normally do.” That’s the Griner effect.
On A&M attacking the basket
They attacked us in the paint, ducked their heads and tried to draw fouls and finish, and they were successful. I don’t know how many perimeter shots they made, but everything was in the paint area. They had a game plan of going in there, and they were very successful at doing it.
JUNIOR CENTER BRITTNEY GRINER
On being on the bench for the last 6 minutes of the first half.
I’m just like coach; I have all the confidence in my team. As a competitor, it sucks sitting on the bench because you want to be out there. I just kept cheering on my team.
On getting a final win in College Station before A&M goes to the SEC.
It’s always good to get a win. It doesn’t matter who it is. The only thing we’re worried about is the NCAAs.