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AMES, Iowa – Iowa State can take some solace for a strong finish against top-ranked Baylor and Brittany Griner.
Problem was, the Cyclones' start was downright dreadful.
Baylor held No. 24 Iowa State scoreless for 11 1/2 minutes in the first half and rolled to a 66-51 victory on Wednesday night. The Cyclones made just six of 24 shots in the opening half before finally settling in.
"We've got to start hitting shots," Iowa State's Anna Prins said. "That long drought we had, we can't have that. I think it's just a matter of people have to step up, including myself, and hit those shots. We'll get it. We're headed in the right direction. We'll be fine."
Prins, a 6-foot-7 senior, did her part. She battled the 6-8 Griner throughout and played especially well in the second half, when she scored 12 of her team-leading 17 points. She also blocked two shots and made a 3-pointer.
Griner led Baylor (17-1, 7-0 Big 12) with 22 points, including the 11th dunk of her career, and six blocks. She got four of those blocks in the game's first 7:11.
"We told our kids, if Brittney Griner blocks your shot, you will not be the first person she blocks a shot on," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "Just go in and if she blocks it, she blocks it. In the first half, we did not do that at all. In the second half, I thought Anna really wanted to do it. Her ability to demand the ball and get us some baskets was pretty good."
Against a team like Baylor, though, everyone has to contribute. Brynn Williamson finished with 11 points after a scoreless first half and was the only other Iowa State player in double figures.
Baylor held Iowa State to 36 percent shooting for the game and forced 18 turnovers, including three early shot clock violations that set the tone for the Lady Bears on the defensive end.
Odyssey Sims added 12 points and Alexis Prince 11 for Baylor, which won its 29th straight regular season conference game.
"They are such a good defensive team," Fennelly said. "When you have Brittney at the back end and Odyssey Sims is the best on-ball defender I have ever seen. She changes the game."
Baylor took control early, running off 17 straight points during Iowa State's long drought. The Cyclones (13-4, 4-3) had taken a quick 6-4 lead on a pair of 3-pointers, but didn't score again until Baylor was up 21-6.
Griner triggered the big run when she picked off a pass intended for Prins, drove unimpeded to the other end and threw down a two-handed dunk. It was just one more slam for the most prolific dunker in women's college basketball history.
The Lady Bears got their latest victory in typical fashion. They played harassing defense that created turnovers or forced the Cyclones into awkward shots and Griner dominated in the middle, hitting a variety of turnaround jumpers and intimidating shooters who ventured into the lane.
She has 657 career blocks now and needs just seven more to break the NCAA record of 663 by Louella Tomlinson of Saint Mary's. She might have gotten a couple of more Wednesday if she had not picked up her fourth foul, which sent her to the bench for the game's final 6:50.
Iowa State did hold Baylor to a season-low point total by slowing the pace to shorten the game. But with the Cyclones struggling to score, it didn't matter in the end.
And Baylor has a way of making plays that can break an opponent's will.
Late in the first half, Sims swiped the ball from Moody, drove for a layup and missed. But she corralled the rebound and scored on the putback.
After Iowa State's Hallie Christofferson hit a baseline jumper cut the lead to 28-16, Baylor called time with 2.4 seconds left in the first half. The Lady Bears inbounded to Griner at halfcourt, she turned and fired the ball to Sims on the left wing and the junior guard buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Down by as many as 18, Iowa State drew to 31-18 when Prins scored inside against Griner, and trailed just 43-31 when Chelsea Poppens got free for a layup with 11:05 remaining.
Baylor answered with a 23-11 to end any upset threat, finishing that burst with Griner on the bench.
The Lady Bears' previous low for the season came in a 67-39 victory over Iowa State in Waco on Jan. 9.
"Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized," said Fennelly, whose team gave up 22 points off turnovers. "That's what great teams do. We just could not find a way to stop them."