LAWRENCE, Kan. – The toughest loss for Kansas this season may not have been to one of its opponents.
When leading scorer Carolyn Davis tore the ACL in her left knee on Feb. 12, the Jayhawks' NCAA tournament hopes took a tumble. They didn't improve with a 79-45 loss to No. 1 Baylor on Friday night, and Kansas now faces two critical games before the Big 12 tournament.
"We have to find a way to win. We have to improve our resume," Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "You get two more wins, we're at 9-9 (in the Big 12), and there's no doubt we're in."
The Jayhawks (18-10, 7-9) have lost four of their last five games.
"The most important thing is to beat Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Both of us are desperate," Henrickson said. "They're right below us, looking to catch us."
Davis averaged 16.9 points and was in the top 5 nationally in field-goal percentage when she went down in the opening minutes against Kansas State.
Without Davis inside, player of the year candidate Brittney Griner scored eight of the first 14 points for Baylor (29-0, 16-0). The star forward finished with 20 in just 28 minutes.
"I don't think it was any easier," Griner said. "The post players they've got are good post players. They defend me just as if Carolyn was out there."
Angel Goodrich, who led Kansas with 14 points, said the Jayhawks can't focus on the "what if," even though it may be difficult to avoid.
"We have to focus on what we can do and make the changes," Goodrich said. "If we make changes in the game for a certain team, we don't have Carolyn. We have to focus on what changes we did."
Kimetria Hayden had 16 points and Odyssey Sims added 15 for the Lady Bears, who cruised to a 20-point lead early in the first half, allowing Griner to take much of the night off.
"I can probably give you a bunch of things we have to work on, but it's not something that's going to be necessarily exposed in tonight's game," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "You mainly want to make sure you get your rotation enough minutes to stay in shape and get them off the floor."
In that respect, Baylor's trip to Allen Fieldhouse was a success.
"Late in the year it's important when you can rest players," Mulkey said, "and we've been able to do that a lot of late."
Any chance of the Jayhawks sticking with Baylor was lost in the opening minutes.
Goodrich answered a basket by Griner at the 16:54 mark of the first half, but Kansas didn't score again until the pint-sized guard hit the second of two free-throw attempts with 8:28 left.
The Jayhawks went more than 11 minutes without another field goal as the Bears slowly bullied their way to a 25-3 lead. Griner wound up with 10 points and five rebounds in the first half, but she allowed everybody else to join in the fun, too.
Sims, Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams all contributed to the big early run.
Chelsea Gardner finally ended the Jayhawks' field-goal drought with 5:52 left in the half, and she would up pouring in eight points before halftime to get it to 33-16.
Griner promptly added a pair of free throws out of the break, Baylor latched down on defense one more time, and the Lady Bears put the game away in brutally efficient fashion.
It was silent most of the second half inside Allen Fieldhouse, where less than 24 hours later the fourth-ranked Kansas men were to play No. 3 Missouri for the final time in the regular season.
The Lady Bears, who had already clinched their own Big 12 title, remain the lone undefeated team in Division I. They're off to the best start in school history, winning their 104th straight game when scoring at least 70 points and improving to 70-3 when allowing 60 or fewer.
Baylor can match the 2009-10 Nebraska team for the best start in conference history on Monday night at Texas A&M. The Cornhuskers, now members of the Big Ten, won their first 30 games.
"I don't think we're going through the motions at all," said Griner, who also had eight rebounds and four blocks. "We want to finish it out strong."