COLUMBIA, Mo. – Losing the opening tipoff isn't necessarily an accurate predictor for the rest of a basketball game. Conceding that tipoff by sending out one of your shortest players to jump center against an All-American? That move has the making of a long night.
At 5-foot-9, Missouri freshman guard Morgan Eye was no match against 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner of Baylor, who remained flat-footed and still won the tip easily. She scored Baylor's first eight points and spent much of the second half on the bench as the top-ranked, undefeated Lady Bears rolled to a 71-41 win over struggling Missouri on Wednesday night.
Baylor (22-0, 9-0 Big 12) dominated every facet of the game, outscoring the Tigers 42-14 in the paint, 25-4 off turnovers, 17-2 on second chances and 12-0 in fast breaks.
"Some of those unforced turnovers, when we lack poise or the toughness that we need to have - I think that's the most frustrating thing," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. "Because those are all leading into easy conversion transition buckets for them."
BreAnna Brock and Sydney Crafton led Missouri (10-10, 0-9) in scoring with eight points apiece, while Christine Flores, the team's leading scorer with an average of nearly 19 points a game, was held to seven points and seven rebounds.
Flores made just 3-of-15 field goals and missed all four of her 3-point attempts. Many of her inside misses came on shots either altered or rejected by Griner, who had four blocks against a Missouri team whose front-line starters are five and six inches shorter.
Pingeton felt her senior leader lacked the same confidence she has displayed in previous games, especially on the perimeter.
"I feel like she took some rushed shots," the coach said. "She didn't have the poise that maybe she's had as of late with her shot, especially on the perimeter."
When it came to defending Griner, add Missouri to the ranks of those whose game plans sounded good on paper but didn't work out as planned once it came time to take the court against the Lady Bears. Griner scored 18 points overall, Destiny Williams had 10 points with 11 rebounds and Odyssey Sims had 12 points for Baylor.
"We've seen it all," Mulkey said after the game. "I thought they used up the shot clock quite a bit to shorten the game, keep it low-scoring. They stayed in the zone and challenged us to basically be patient and work it around."
Missouri kept pace with Baylor early on, briefly taking their only lead at 4-2, but trailed 28-18 at halftime after a seven-minute scoring drought that left the Tigers with just six points after 10 minutes. Baylor quickly took control in the second half, scoring the first 10 points and going on a 24-5 run over the first seven minutes of the period to put the game away.
The Lady Bears, who had 11 steals overall, sped up the pace in the second half as Missouri continued to flounder, converting just 31.4 percent of its field-goal attempts for the game and 26 percent of its 3-point attempts.
"We're the victim tonight," Pingeton said. "It can go from a 12-point game to a 25-point game in a matter of minutes. "Their transition game is very aggressive, and when you have a turnover in that open court, it's going to be a layup at the other end."
The Tigers remain winless in their final season in the Big 12 Conference before joining the SEC next year. They set season lows for points in both the first half and the entire game.
Mulkey said her team was well prepared against Missouri, which starts two freshman guards as Pingeton attempts to build a struggling program in her second year in Columbia after seven years coaching Illinois State.
"I told them in the scouting report: expect two post players that can shoot the 3 to take you outside, "Mulkey said. "Expect them to shorten the game, keep it low-scoring and just be patient on defense, disciplined the last 10 seconds of the shot clock. You're going to see a zone.
"Everything I told them came true tonight. But it's not something we haven't seen."
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