WACO, Texas – With seemingly the entire Prairie View defense swarming Brittney Griner, Baylor's 6-foot-8 sophomore standout still made it an easy play — in what was an easy NCAA tournament opener at home for the top-seeded Lady Bears.
Griner passed the ball to Destiny Williams, who was all alone on the other side of the lane for an uncontested layup. That was early in the top-seeded Lady Bears' 66-30 victory Sunday night in which they held Prairie View to the lowest-scoring half in an NCAA tournament game.
"If everybody's coming straight to me, I can always find Destiny or Brooklyn (Pope)," Griner said. "It's easy, catch it up high, turn and pass it to her. I got pumped up on it."
Williams scored the first six points for the Lady Bears, who raced out to a 16-0 lead on their home floor while SWAC champion Prairie View (21-12) missed its first 12 shots.
Griner and Pope both had 17 points for the Lady Bears (32-2), who play Tuesday night against ninth-seeded West Virginia (24-9), a 79-73 winner in the first game Sunday at Waco.
Prairie View finally scored when Waco native Robin Jones made a layup more than 9 minutes into the game. It was 34-8 at halftime, the fewest points scored by one team in any half of a women's NCAA tournament game.
The Lady Panthers were only 3-of-27 shooting before halftime, and finished 12 of 60 (20 percent). The 30 total points were the third-lowest in an NCAA women's tournament game.
"You can tell Coach (Kim) Mulkey has those girls on another level. They've got something they want to prove," Prairie View coach Toyelle Wilson said. "We couldn't score. We had nobody step up — nobody — the whole game."
In the earlier game, Liz Repella scored 26 points, and Madina Ali added 13 points and 15 rebounds to lift senior-filled West Virginia into the second round for the fourth time in five years (2007, '08 and '10).
Next comes the hard part for West Virginia — trying to win back-to-back games. The Mountaineers, who at one point were 19-1 and ranked No. 6 in the poll, haven't done that since January. And now they have to face the top-seeded team playing on its home floor — Baylor is 20-0 in the Ferrell Center this season.
"We put ourselves in this position during the season. It seems like our girls do a great job when they're the underdog. I think we'll play better than we did today," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. "We're going to go down swinging. We're not going to go in fearing anybody. We're going to attack."
The Mountaineers fell behind early against Houston, then took control with a 16-1 run. They led by 12 at halftime thanks to the first of their two banked-in 3s, but Carey told them during the break that they could've been up by 20 if they hadn't missed so many layups and other gimmes.
"I told them after the game, 'You think you missed layups now, wait til you play Baylor with Griner sitting back there,'" Carey said.
Houston (26-6) had won 17 games in a row before losing in the Conference USA tournament semifinals against Tulane.
Griner played a team-high 28 minutes for Baylor, a Final Four team last year when she was a freshman. She had eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
While the Big 12 champion Lady Bears are very good, they are still very young. Griner is one of seven sophomores on a team with a freshman starting point guard.
"There is no perfect game. There's always something you can learn," Griner said. "Coach Mulkey does a great job of pointing out those errors."
As Pope put it about her coach, "Although it was a blowout, we still had plenty of mistakes that I'm sure she will address tomorrow."
Siarra Soliz led Prairie View with 12 points. The freshman guard, Prairie View's leading scorer for the season in a starting lineup with four seniors, had five turnovers — three in the first 2½ minutes of the game.
The Lady Bears were in complete control the entire game, but Mulkey at times sat on the bench with her arms and legs crossed while staring at the court, seemingly frustrated.
"It was a game that we took care of business, I guess you'd say," Mulkey said.
Things will certainly get more difficult moving forward, and there were teaching moments in what looked at times more like a glorified practice for Baylor.
Every Lady Bears player was on the floor for at least six minutes.
Even after Baylor's impressive first half, Mulkey was so frustrated by sloppy play right after halftime that she briefly considering pulling all five players out of the game. But she let them play through it.
"I don't look at the score. I just coach," Mulkey said. "I think anybody that's on the floor at any time in the game, you just keep coaching, and you keep teaching and you keep demanding things."
Because the Lady Bears, who lost by a point at Connecticut the first week of this season and reached No. 1 in the polls for seven weeks, are still five wins away from reaching their goal.