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Griner leads No. 3 Baylor past Colorado, 81-59

Brittney Griner had 26 points and 13 rebounds and ceaseless shot-altering defense helped third-ranked Baylor overcame a first-half letdown to rout Colorado 81-59 on Saturday.

Odyssey Sims added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Bears (28-2), who finished 15-1 in Big 12 play, one win better than their 2005 national championship team.

Brittany Spears scored 23 points for Colorado (15-14, 6-10), which trimmed an early 20-point deficit to 34-28 at the half but couldn't make another run after halftime without sophomore guard Chucky Jeffery. The Buffaloes' second-leading scorer and top rebounder was attending her great grandmother's funeral in New York.

The Buffaloes could have used her averages of 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds to go with her Big 12-best 2.7 steals per game to counter Griner.

Colorado had beaten both of the other ranked teams that visited the Coors Events Center this season, Iowa State and Oklahoma, but the Bears jumped out to a 22-2 lead and it looked like this one would be over early.

The Buffaloes' sparse student section gave up on the stand-until-you-score tradition long before Spears' bucket four minutes and 42 seconds into the game.

Kimetria Hayden (13 points) popped the net from beyond the arc to make it 30-10 with 7:22 left in the first half, but the Bears would score just one more bucket — Griner's layup with 90 seconds left — the rest of the way.

The Buffaloes started making stop after stops and shot after shot, including four 3-pointers, two of them by Brittany Wilson. They closed out the first half on an 18-4 run that brought them to 34-28 at the break, energizing the crowd of 6,102, the biggest for a women's game here in seven years.

As they huddled in the tunnel before the second half, the Bears were telling each other, "Next five minutes. Next five minutes."

They made several stops and restored their double-digit lead at 45-35 five minutes in, then kept going.

Destiny Williams, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, sank two free throws, Hayden had a steal-and-score, Sims added another layup, Griner hit a fadeaway jumper and a jumper, and Baylor's 20-point lead was back.

With Griner in the way, the Buffaloes couldn't get to the line. Their first free throws came with 9:21 left in the game. They were outscored 26-6 from the foul line and 38-12 in the paint, both testaments to Griner's dominance inside.

Melissa Jones returned to Baylor's starting lineup after missing Wednesday night's Big 12-clinching win over Missouri with swelling in her right eye after hitting the floor in a game against Oklahoma last weekend. Donning shades, Jones, who grew up in Colorado, played 24 minutes but didn't score. She came in averaging 9.1 points.

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