WACO, Texas – Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale actually had a smile on her face when she walked off the court at halftime with her team down by 11 points at top-ranked Baylor.
That feeling didn't last.
Griner scored 27 points with eight rebounds and eight blocks and Baylor remained undefeated with their second lopsided victory in less than two weeks against the Sooners, winning 81-54 at home Monday night.
Oklahoma's plan to be physical with Griner backfired, with Baylor's 6-foot-8 phenom making all 13 of her free throws. And the Sooners (15-7, 7-4 Big 12) made things even worse when they went nearly 11 minutes after halftime before finally making a field goal.
"Even at halftime, I didn't feel like we had let anything get away," Coale said. "At halftime, we felt OK. We just knew we had to weather the first four minutes of the second half, and when you go 0-for-16 to start the second half, you're not going to win many games."
Baylor and Oklahoma have often played the most anticipated and best games in the Big 12 each season.
Not this year, when Brittney Griner and the top-ranked Lady Bears (24-0, 11-0) have made it no contest.
This win, Baylor's 36th in a row at home, came less than two weeks after the Lady Bears won 89-58 in Norman. And these are the two Big 12 teams that were in the same NCAA Final Four only two years ago.
"They're older, sure. Griner's gotten better every year. ... She's a much more mature player and has more depth to her game, more things that she can do. There's a lot of upperclassmen on the floor," Coale said. "There's a lot of experience out there and very little youth. Even though Odyssey (Sims) is a sophomore, she played every minute as a freshman. So, they're deep and they've got all those weapons."
Meanwhile, Oklahoma's roster is filled with young players.
By the time Sharane Campbell made a basket with 9:14 left in the game, the Sooners trailed 68-36. They finished shooting a season-low 27 percent (16 of 60) for the game.
Griner scored 27 points with eight rebounds and eight blocks in just less than 29 minutes. The 13 made free throws were a career best. Sims had 14 points and four steals, while Brooklyn Pope had 11 points and Destiny Williams 15 points.
Whitney Hand had 20 points to lead Oklahoma, which had won three in a row since the loss to the Lady Bears. Campbell had 13 points.
"I thought we flustered them in the first half," Hand said. "In that stretch they got going, and when they get going, it goes pretty fast."
Joanna McFarland played for the first time for Oklahoma after missing six games because of a broken jaw. Wearing a plastic protective mask over her face, McFarland had nine rebounds but was 0-for-3 shooting with one free throw made in 25 minutes.
Griner got off to a quick start, scoring the first basket of the game. The Sooners then scored seven in a row, going ahead on a 3-pointer by Morgan Hook and leading 7-2 on Hand's jumper.
The Sooners had their last lead when Hand made a jumper with 14 minutes left in the first half to make it 11-9. But Baylor then scored 13 in a row and Oklahoma went more than 6½ minutes without a field goal until Aaryn Ellenberg made a 3-pointer.
Baylor scored 24 points off 17 Oklahoma turnovers, and outscored the Sooners 42-18 in the paint. And there were all those missed shots by Oklahoma.
"They're buying into what we're teaching them on the defensive end of the floor, they're listening to scouting reports, they're making it very difficult for people to score," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said about her team's defensive effort. "And they're taking pride in that."