Iowa State Loses 77-53 at No. 1 Baylor
WACO, Texas (AP) Iowa State was doing exactly what it wanted against top-ranked Baylor, and the Cyclones were leading early in the second half.
Then Baylor went to full-court pressure, and the game quickly got out of hand.
Baylor forced three turnovers in less than a minute after changing its defense during a timeout and broke the last tie with a 26-4 run en route to a 77-53 victory Saturday that wrapped up the Lady Bears' first undefeated regular season.
"That's obviously a great team. They played a great second half," Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. "When you panic against a great team, and you're not making make shots, it's pretty tough.
"It's a great team in a lot of ways, certainly a team that has very high aspirations, and they should."
Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 phenom, led Baylor with a career-high 41 points on 15-of-18 shooting and 11 free throws
The Cyclones (18-11, 9-9 Big 12) made seven 3-pointers before halftime, including Chelsea Poppens' shot in the final minute that tied the game at 32. Iowa State still led 40-38 after Griner made a short jumper and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey called timeout with 17:24 left and switched to a full-court pressure defense.
Baylor (31-0, 18-0) never trailed again after Destiny Williams followed one of the turnovers with a reverse layup. Williams finished 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Iowa State, which had gone 7-2 in February, tied the game at 43 when Chassidy Cole made a 3-pointer with 15:21 left. But the Cyclones didn't make another field goal for more than 13 minutes.
Williams responded with a long jumper that broke that tie, and started the big run over a span of just less than 10 minutes.
"We've been struggling a little bit with the press this whole year," center Anna Prins said. "I think it's a mix of emotion and things started to go bad. It just kind of spiraled down."
Prins led the Cyclones with 17 points and four 3-pointers, one of six Iowa State players to make shots from beyond the arc. Nikki Moody had 12 points with two 3s.
But Iowa State was only 3-of-15 shooting on 3s after halftime.
"The first half was so fun," Prins said. "These kinds of games, knowing you're playing the No. 1 team in the country, you've just got to go in knowing that you've got to be competitive but also have fun. We need to keep working on putting a full game together."
Baylor, which has won its games by an average margin of nearly 28 points, also stretched its home-court winning streak to 40 in a row.
"We knew when we came down here, the two things we talked the most about, we had to make a lot of shots," Fennelly said. "We knew that. Lot of 3s, and we did in the first half. And we had to keep them off the free-throw line, and we didn't do a very good job of that. Their defense picked up. They did a great job."
While going through the regular season undefeated is quite an accomplishment, the Lady Bears still are not close to their ultimate goal of winning another national championship. Their only national title came in 2005, and they lost in a regional final last year to eventual champ Texas A&M.
"Never do you ever think you're going to go undefeated. ... But if you reflect on it today, these guys that I get to coach, Wow!," Mulkey said. "We're very appreciative of it. But it's on the back burner now. It's kind of like, we won that regular-season championship, we're going to try to go win three games at the conference tournament, but we still have our focus on those last six. Those last six."
With three wins in the Big 12 tournament next week and the six needed in the NCAA tournament for a title, Baylor could reach 40 wins.
Mulkey said her assistant coaches had been bugging her to switch to the pressure defense since the first half. She finally relented early in the second half, and that changed the game.
"The press picked up our intensity a lot," Williams said. "We had fast breaks, transitions, people got to the foul line. It helped us out as far as getting stops and creating offensive more baskets. It picked up our energy."