By Clay Horning
CNHI News Service
NORMAN – They came, they fought hard, they lost 86-64.
That was the tale at Lloyd Noble Center Monday night where the Oklahoma women may have proven their mettle, yet No. 1 Baylor proved its utter and total dominance – at least as long as reigning player of the year Brittney Griner remained on the floor.
Griner’s numbers – 15 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks – were plenty good, but her effect on the game was mammoth.
Even when she wasn’t on the floor, she was the most important player in the building, for only then, as she rode the bench after two first-half fouls, did OU lift itself back into the game.
That the Sooners kept at it is what stuck with their coach.
“I am proud of our guys. I thought we played hard,” OU coach Sherri Coale said. “You have got to be able to make a few more shots than that against a team like Baylor. When you can’t get to the rim, you’ve got to make some 3s.”
OU shot 32.9 percent (23 of 70) overall and 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from 3-point land.
At one point, as Baylor led 47-30 after beginning the second half on a 10-0 run, the Lady Bears had outscored the Sooners 31-6 with their 6-foot-8 center on the floor, while the Sooners had the best of it, 24-16, with her off it.
Though Griner and her Lady Bear teammates had plenty to do with it, the Sooners hurt themselves by continuing a trend of starting halves terribly. Beginning at OSU three days ago, OU has suffered runs of 23-4, 10-2, 19-4 and 10-0 to begin each of their last four halves.
“We were just stuck,” said Sharane Cambell, who was picking herself off the floor the whole game, drawing a trio of Baylor offensive fouls while getting to the free-throw line for a game-high seven attempts.
Baylor didn’t come in waves this time, but its dominant stretches were very balanced, with Griner only one of six Lady Bears in double figures.
Destiny Williams led with 16 points, Odyssey Sims added 13, Alexis Prince and Brooklyn Pope each finished with 12 and Jordan Madden had 11.
The Sooners got 19 points from Aaryn Ellenberg, 15 from point guard Morgan Hook, 14 from Campbell and 12 from center Nicole Griffin.
Still, night could almost be summed up by the combined field-accuracy of Joanna McFarland (1 of 6), Griffin (4 of 16), Campbell (4 of 12) and Nicole Kornet (1 of 6).
Outside of their two veteran starting guards – Hook and Ellenberg – the Sooners converted just 23 percent (9 of 39) from the field.
“We had some good looks that we missed and we had some layups that were pretty good looks, too,” Coale said. “That is what (Baylor’s) speed and athleticism can do to you.”
OU’s brightest spot occurred after Griner exited with her second foul 11:37 before the half. The Sooners were down 21-6 at the time, but went on a 14-3 run to make it a four-point game. A little later, at 29-25, OU had two chances to make it a one-possession game.
“I never felt the sense that I had to put Griner back in,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I felt like we were just going to need to weather the storm.”