Griner sets NCAA blocking record, nearly ties Big 12 all-time scoring record in win over Oklahoma
WACO, Texas – No. 1 Baylor’s Brittney Griner made history Saturday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd at the Ferrell Center in Waco setting the NCAA career record blocked shots for men or women in an 82-65 win over No. 20 Oklahoma. She surpassed the record of 663 blocks formerly held by Louella Tomlinson, St. Mary’s (CA), and finished the game with a total of 665.
It was family night for Baylor so Griner’s relatives had the opportunity to see her set the mark.
“I’m happy I got that, it’s just icing on the cake,” she remarked about earning the accolade in front of her family, “now I’m just going to try and set it high.”
While Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey had a lot of praise for her team, she also voiced concerns about areas where she feels they need to improve.
“I thought shooting 60 percent from the field with six players in double figures against the number two team in the league right now is very good,” said Mulkey. “But then you have to evaluate yourself and say, ‘If you shot like that and had that many players in double figures, why did you only win by 17?’ It goes back to two things. One, missed free throws. They make free throws, we missed 14 free throws. That’s unacceptable. Then, they made a lot of threes. Those two areas were big. I thought our transition game was outstanding. I thought anybody and everybody that wanted to score ran the floor, but we have to do a better job at executing in the half court when we don’t have those transition opportunities.”
Oklahoma started the game on a three-point shot from junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg who managed to grab the ball after Griner won the tip. However, the only lead changes came within the first five minutes and after a tie of 10 at 15:39, the contest was all Baylor. The Lady Bears went on a 12-0 run with a balanced offense. At the half Brooklyn Pope, Odyssey Sims and Griner had eight points each while Kimetria Hayden scored seven and Jordan Madden 6. Griner finished the half needing only three more blocks to break the NCAA record.
Ellenberg carried the scoring load for the Sooners in the first half with 21 points. Senior forward Joanna McFarland had 6 points at the half along with six rebounds. Baylor went into the locker room with a 45-36 lead.
Griner began the second half scoring off of a defensive rebound but landed in foul trouble during the second period. While she earned her record breaking block at 8:51, she fouled out at 5:14. It was only the second time in her career that she racked up five fouls.
“Brittney doesn’t foul,” said Mulkey “She doesn’t have to. So we’re going to see what we can correct from our end.”
She finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks. She was three points shy of setting the Big 12 all-time scoring record held by Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State) of 2,835 points.
“When I went into the game I didn’t go in trying to break that, so I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed,” she remarked about not breaking another record. “I wish I would’ve made my free throws and made some more shots in the first half. I’m disappointed about that.”
Griner was also unhappy about her fouls.
“I definitely didn’t know it was my fifth one. I didn’t even know I had four at the time. It was frustrating. I haven’t fouled out like that in awhile.”
Odyssey Sims scored 12 points and dished out 10 assists. Destiny Williams contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds. Brooklyn Pope, Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden had 10 points each. Pope also pulled down seven rebounds.
Even with the loss, Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale had a positive outlook.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Coale. “I thought we competed and fought every step of the way and did some really, really good things, attacked them, went after them and shot pretty well from the three. We did not shoot it well from two, but there’s a big reason for that and her number is 42 (Brittney Griner). Baylor is just really, really good.”
Ellenberg led Oklahoma with 33 points. McFarland finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
With an undefeated record so far in the Big 12 and the prospect of a deep run in the NCAA tournament, Mulkey addressed her team’s chances of bringing home another national title.
“We’re better. That doesn’t mean we’re entitled to another championship. We’ve got to go out and play hard. We’ve got to earn it.”
Baylor returns to action on Wednesday with a game on the road at Texas Tech. Oklahoma hosts Texas Christian on the same day.
Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey
On the inbounds plays:
“They had three around Brittney, which we’ve seen before. That group has been playing together awhile. I think it’s instincts amongst themselves. They just feed off of each other.”
Baylor junior guard Odyssey Sims
On her offensive skills today:
“I don’t go into the game trying to get a lot of points or take a lot of shots. I just do whatever I can to help my team win.”
On having Griner on defense:
“It relieves a lot of pressure off me. I’m still pressuring the ball and keeping them to the sideline, but it’s always a big help when you can send them in and know she’s going to block the shot.”
Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale
On being physical with Griner
“We just wanted to do what we do offensively. We played through our post a lot and I thought they did a good job of demanding the basketball. And on the other end of the floor we did a nice job of not allowing her to turn, not allowing any space to turn and be there, taking charge.”
On the little mistakes
“Ironically, you have to be able to do all the big things to be in a position where the little things matter. And so it is step one and then step two. You want to say, ‘Can we all just listen when I tell one kid.’ They do a really good job though, Odyssey (Sims) is really smart and there’s just no way to guard them straight up, with Griner standing in the middle of the lane. So you’ve got to roll the dice and take some chances.”
Oklahoma junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg
On Griner’s presence inside
“You don’t want to go away from it. You don’t want to go away from the game plan. And we are a really good driving team. You don’t want to go away from it, but she does get a lot of blocks so it is in your head, but you can’t let those get to you.”
Oklahoma senior forward Joanna McFarland
On Griner’s presence
“I think really it just makes you think twice about, when you’re driving, thinking, ‘Am I going to take this layup?’ It makes you change your shot a little bit, but I think when you just stick to what you’re going to do. She’s going to block shots, but you have to be aggressive still.”
On Griner’s Physical Nature…
“I’m used to playing a physical game. It isn’t a fear, you just have to go in and go up. If she goes hard at me, I have to go hard back. It’s a mutual thing.”