WACO, Texas – Wisconsin-Milwaukee will be home for the holidays. The Panthers will probably be ready to get off the road.
The fourth stop on their five-game road trip was a 72-41 loss Thursday night at top-ranked Baylor. Next is a game at 24th-ranked Oklahoma before going home for five games through the first week of January.
"Who the heck is in charge of my scheduling?" coach Sandy Botham joked. "Oklahoma has a Milwaukee player, so they came to us last year. So we're coming down here. Baylor gave us a nice little guarantee to get down here, so we figured if we're coming to Oklahoma, we might as well get a little money coming down and give our players an opportunity to play one of the top teams in the country."
While Brittney Griner, Odyssey Sims and Brooklyn Pope didn't get much help from the rest of their teammates, the performance of that trio was still plenty for the Lady Bears (9-0) to win their 28th consecutive home game.
"I thought there were only three players who came to play tonight," coach Kim Mulkey said. "It's pretty obvious who they were."
Griner had 20 points while Sims (19 points, 11 assists) and Pope (18 points, 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
Griner, the 6-foot-8 junior phenom, and sophomore point guard Sims teamed up on a 16-2 run for Baylor that stretched its lead to 24-9 about 13 minutes into the game. Griner scored the first six points before Sims scored 10 in a row.
"All coaches think their players are the best. But I truly believe that I'm getting to coach the best point guard in the country and the best center in the country. I really believe that," Mulkey said. "And to think that one's got a couple of years left and one's got one year left, I don't know if the public out there watching even realizes that there's none out there any better than Griner, and there's none out there any better than Odyssey Sims."
Ashley Green scored 11 points for Milwaukee (2-5), which opened its trip with wins over Western Illinois and Bradley before a loss at Western Michigan. The Oklahoma game is Sunday.
Pope, Griner and Sims combined on 25-of-38 shooting for 57 points, outscoring Milwaukee on their own. The rest of the Lady Bears shot 4 for 22, including Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden, the other starting guards. They combined to shoot 0 for 9.
The Lady Bears were up 56-19 after Griner scored eight points in a 12-1 run over the first 5 minutes of the second half.
Milwaukee had only one extended run during the game, scoring 10 consecutive points over a 4-minute span to get within 63-35 when all the Baylor starters were already out of the game.
The Panthers shot only 28 percent (15 of 53), including 5 of 29 on 3-pointers. Milwaukee guard Angela Rodriguez was 1 of 12 from beyond the arc.
"For us, we just had to play the odds," Botham said. "They're shooting 49 percent overall as a team and 33 from 3. We just knew we had to play the percentages and do our best, with Griner shooting in the 60s, try and contain her as much as we can and force the tougher shots."
Griner was 8-of-10 shooting with six rebounds in 30 minutes. Sims had six steals with only two turnovers in 29 minutes, and has 51 assists over her last six games.
"Odyssey Sims has come to play over the last month," Mulkey said. "It's enjoyable to watch her. When we tip off, she's ready to play."