The top-ranked Baylor women’s basketball team survived a late-game scare from Oklahoma State, 77-69, thanks to an unusual hero.
With 38 seconds left on the clock and Oklahoma State (21-10) shrinking its deficit to three points, senior guard Jordan Madden drilled a 3-pointer off an Odyssey Sims pass that would ensure Baylor’s passage into its fifth straight Big 12 Tournament championship game.
“When she was a freshman and sophomore, everybody wanted to expose Jordan Madden on [Brittney] Griner’s side and not guard her,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “She has stayed in the gym more than any of the perimeter starters. She might have hit the biggest shot of her career today, and it wasn’t wide open.”
The shot rescued a Baylor offense that put up a season-high in turnovers with 23, eclipsing a 22-turnover game in November against Kentucky.
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While Sims demonstrated good court leadership to set up the game-winning shot in the final minute, she led Baylor (31-1) in turnovers with seven. Nineteen of the Lady Bears’ miscues came in the second half, allowing Oklahoma State to crawl out of a 17-point hole to come within three with under a minute to play.
“We turned the ball over when it was critical, and that could have lost us the game if we were playing any other team like UConn or Stanford,” Sims said.
The Cowgirls were credited with 17 steals, 14 of which came in the second half. Those turnovers turned into 27 points by Oklahoma State.
Baylor senior center Griner picked up her 60th career double-double with 30 points and 10 rebounds, but the Lady Bears had a surprisingly tough time feeding the 6-foot-8 tower the ball in the low post.
Oklahoma State picked up a double-double of its own with the performance of senior forward Toni Young. At 6-foot-2, Young outrebounded Griner, picking up six of her 11 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor to go along with 22 points. Young drew Griner out of the paint by positioning at the high post.
“It was kind of difficult with her bringing [Griner] up so high and running in there full blast to get a rebound,” Baylor senior forward Brooklyn Pope said.
But Baylor remained efficient in its shooting game, knocking down 53.8 percent of its shots to continue the journey to yet another Big 12 title at 7 p.m. Monday against second-seeded Iowa State.
The close call could be a blessing in disguise for a Baylor team that has seen nothing but huge success for months.
“We needed a game like this,” Sims said. “We’ve been beating teams by 30-plus. We’ve been getting bored out there sometimes, and having a close game like this wakes us up, makes us realize that just because we’re the No. 1 team doesn’t mean we can’t be beat.”
Iowa State 79, Oklahoma 60
Iowa State senior center Anna Prins stole the show Sunday, leading all scorers with 32 points to go along with eight rebounds. Prins was followed by a double-double performance from senior forward Chelsea Poppens, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Cyclones (23-7).
Iowa State’s lead was never threatened after the opening minutes and expanded to as many as 26 points with 13 minutes left in the game.
Oklahoma (22-10) finished with three players in double-figure scoring, led by a pair of upperclassmen with 12 points, junior Morgan Hook and senior Joanna McFarland.