Sports

March 25, 2013

Griner, Baylor seniors to wrap up stellar run at home in NCAA Tournament

The two time All-American has lost only once at home in her career.

Brittney Griner has played in only one loss at home during her four seasons at Baylor.

Junior point guard Odyssey Sims is still undefeated.

“I haven’t really thought about it that way, but I have noticed we haven’t lost a game,” Sims said Monday.

Griner, the 6-foot-8 two-time All-American preparing for her last home game with the Lady Bears (33-1), quickly chimed in with a bit of a clarification.

“She lets us know that she hasn’t lost a game here,” Griner said with a smile. “Don’t let her tell a fib to y’all.”

Baylor plays in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Florida State (23-9) on Tuesday night. It will be the last home game for Griner and four other seniors.

The defending national champion Lady Bears have won a nation’s-best 56 in a row at home. With one more victory, they will be in the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth year in a row.

Since the senior trio of Griner, Jordan Madden and Kimetria Hayden arrived in Waco as freshmen together, Baylor is 71-2 at home. Griner didn’t play in the last home loss, against Texas in the 2009-10 regular-season finale.

The Lady Bears have won every home game the past three seasons — since Sims arrived and when transfers Destiny Williams and Brooklyn Pope, the other seniors, started playing.

“You really forget how hard it is to play at this intense high level night in and night out and not have a slip-up,” coach Kim Mulkey said.

“When you look at the career of these seniors here, it’s pretty amazing that they can continue to play at such a high level regardless of the opponent. Now, I didn’t say we play good every night, but they do play hard every night — with a target on them.”

Baylor, the No. 1 overall seed, opened the NCAA Tournament with an 82-40 victory Sunday night over SWAC tournament champion Prairie View.

Griner had 33 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks against the Lady Panthers. She also had her 15th career dunk, matching the total number of combined dunks by the six other women who have done so in a college game.

“I don’t even think about that too much,” Griner said. “I had the opportunity, I dunked. My teammates, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have those 15. I’d probably have five. … I just play, really.”

What has gone through Griner’s mind is that she’s about to play her final home game at Baylor.

“Last game in the Ferrell. Man, it’s crazy,” Griner said. “Emotional after the game, definitely. Take care of business during the game for sure, then after the game probably a little emotional, a lot more than I was on senior night, just because I knew I had two more [games]. So this is my last game here. Just hope it’s not my last game.”

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