WACO, Texas – Lamar coach Larry Tidwell had no misconceptions of what to expect when his team opened its second season in a row against the defending national champion.
The Lady Cardinals had no chance against Brittney Griner and top-ranked Baylor, which opened defense of its undefeated national title with its 41st consecutive victory, 80-34 on Friday.
"Griner is the best player in the nation, there's no question. But guys, y'all have the best point guard in the nation in Odyssey Sims," Tidwell said. "You mix that combo with having without question the coach of the year, that's pretty good. And then you have six more McDonald's All-Americans coming at you."
The 6-foot-8 Griner scored 24 points in 18 minutes for her 81st consecutive double-figure scoring game. She also had five rebounds and two blocked shots, increasing her Big 12 record to 601 and getting within 62 of the NCAA mark.
"I'm showing my age here, but you're looking at a person that dominates the women's game like Wilt Chamberlain dominated the men's game for so long," Tidwell said. "It's incredible."
Kalis Loyd had 11 points to lead Lamar. Loyd scored only one point after halftime, and the Cardinals had only nine the last 20 minutes.
Loyd had 20 points last November when the Lady Cardinals opened with an 83-58 loss at Texas A&M before going on to have their fifth consecutive winning season under Tidwell.
"Since I've been at Lamar (six years), I've been in eight arenas that won national championships, and so we don't back off," Tidwell said. "It is what it is, it's a money game for us. What I do with that is we pay for summer school, that way our kids graduate on time."
Sims had 11 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals with only one turnover in her 29 minutes.
Baylor charged out to a 10-point lead less than 4 minutes into the game, going up 13-3 on a 3-pointer by Sims.
Already with a 40-25 halftime lead, Griner had an inside layup and a short jumper as the Lady Bears opened the second half with a 10-0 run — one point more than Lamar scored total after halftime. In that 4-minute spurt, Lamar had four turnovers and missed its only three shots.
Griner had a near dunk with 9 minutes late, but settled for a nifty finger-roll layup in the lane after a perfect pass from Sims.
Tidwell was a Baylor assistant coach in the 1990s, before Mulkey arrived and the Lady Bears won two national championships.
"We battled good in the first half, but we just didn't finish," Tidwell said. "Well, I can look at the first half and then not look at the second half. And seriously, I'm not trying to be cute. We did some good things, we knocked some shots down."