WACO, Texas – Baylor is clearly Odyssey Sims' team now.
The senior point guard, a preseason All-America guard and the only returning starter, helped get the 10th-ranked Lady Bears off to a solid start in their first game without Brittney Griner.
Sims had 28 points along with five steals and four rebounds — including a 25-second span when was responsible for seven points — to lead Baylor to a 110-55 season-opening victory over Grambling State on Saturday night.
"It was different. But I like the feel of the team," Sims said. "I felt like we came out and we were ready to go from the jump. ... Everybody came in and knew their role and they played it."
The Lady Bears extended their nation's-best home winning streak to 58 in a row. They haven't lost in the Ferrell Center since March 2010 to Texas, the final home game of Griner's freshman season.
Mariah Chandler, a returning post player now getting her chance to start, had 14 points. She scored eight in Baylor's game-opening 16-0 run.
All 12 Baylor players, including five freshmen in their college debuts, had rebounds in the game. All the freshmen were among the 11 Lady Bears who scored points. Freshman Nina Davis and Kristina Higgins each had 11 points, while Imani Wright, another freshman, had 10.
"It's a first game and it's a win and wins are going to be hard to come by when you're as young as we are," coach Kim Mulkey said. "And yet, at the same time, we did some good things."
Victoya Ricks had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Grambling, which had four players score in double figures but had 34 turnovers.
In Baylor's first game since the 6-foot-8 Griner, the two-time AP Player of the Year, and four other seniors finished their careers with an unexpected loss to Louisville in the NCAA round of 16 last March, the Lady Bears scored their most points since 117 against Sam Houston State on Dec. 4, 2006. The school record is 129.
Baylor has won all 14 of its home openers for coach Mulkey.
Before the game, the Lady Bears unveiled three more banners in the rafters. They were for last season's Big 12 regular season and tournament titles, and the Sweet 16 banner. Then there was a lengthy preview video narrated by Dick Enberg.
The new banners hang on the opposite end of the arena from the 2012 national championship that Baylor won going undefeated with the NCAA's only 40-win season.
In less than a half-minute midway through the first half, Sims assisted on a 3-pointer and then had consecutive backcourt steals that she turned into layups. That put Baylor up 31-6.
"I didn't know that. I didn't pay attention to it. It's just instincts," Sims said. "I'm just happy to play with this team. We're new, we're young. It's different."
Mulkey said Sims never tires out on the court.
"She just has a body that she's like a little muscle out there," the coach said. "She's strong for her size. And a lot is going to be asked of her this year, and it's understandable why. "
Griner had plenty of highlight dunks, a record-shattering 748 blocked shots (men or women) and 3,283 points (2nd all-time on the NCAA women's career list) during her four seasons. Without her dominating presence in the post, the Lady Bears will highlight their impressive guard play led by Sims, who can now be the primary scorer.
Grambling had five turnovers and missed its first three shots before Watkins scored on a layup with 15:11 left in the first half. Sims had a layup that put Baylor up 37-8 with 9:14 left in the first half before Dennisha Chambers' jumper got the Lady Tigers in double digits.
Chambers had 13 points, Jessica Watkins 12, SWAC preseason player of the year Joanna Miller scored 10 10.
"You want to keep morale going, when you get down, you're not out, there's 40 minutes in the game. Coach always expresses to our players don't give up until the game over," Grambling assistant coach Lou Hamilton said. "One of the things that we showed tonight was a lot of fight, we didn't give up. ... We want to grow from that."