Baylor center Brittney Griner was unquestionably the MVP of tonight's 67-58 win over the Texas A&M Aggies.
However, the game was good enough that the highlights don't really do this game justice and I'm sure it was even better in person.
What the highlights don't show you is that TAMU had Baylor down 9 with about 10 minutes left in the second half, which is what made Griner exerting her will on the game even more dramatic. They don't show the Baylor guards seemingly ignoring her to begin the second half after she only had three points in the second half. They don't show TAMU freshman Karla Gilbert coming off the bench for TAMU in the first half and fearlessly going toe to toe with Griner to muscle her out of rebounding and scoring position. And it doesn't show Baylor's freshman Odyssey Sims literally carrying the Lady Bears in the first half when Griner was essentially a non-factor.
We've talked quite a bit about a number of bad nationally televised games recently, but this was one that was simply outstanding and with a full house in Waco a competitive - though by no means flawless - advertisement for women's basketball.
"I am proud of these young ladies," Blair was quoted as saying after the game on Baylor's website. "The nation got to see the No. 1 and No. 5 team in the nation and we played like it. We did everything right until the last three and a half minutes, and they did everything right in the last ten minutes of the game. They did a great job of getting the ball down inside to (Brittney) Griner and she finished."
Baylor statistical MVP: Griner shines down the stretch
Indeed Griner ultimately stole the show down the stretch and while that description is certainly not inaccurate, Blair's phrasing is probably more accurate: for some reason, Baylor finally started looking to pass the ball into the post more often. However you want to describe it, Griner ended up scoring 18 of her game-high 26 points in the final 10 minutes of the game. She was by far Baylor's most efficient scorer with a 55.55% free throw rate as well. Although offensive rebounding is almost unquestionably an area of improvement, Griner did a solid job on the defensive boards getting 23.52% of those available and had four blocks just for kicks.
By the time Baylor put the finishing touches on their 67-58 win, Griner had accounted for an outstanding 49.79% of her team's total statistical production. That's the reason why it's difficult to simply hand any sort of national player of the year accolades to UConn's Maya Moore - Griner is truly a force of nature and it's not like she's carrying a team of slouches.
Key player: Odyssey Sims carries Baylor when they couldn't find Griner
While guard Melissa Jones has been Griner's most consistent sidekick statistically and Destiny Williams turned some heads recently against Oklahoma State, it was Odyssey Sims that kept Baylor in the game in the first half.
Griner Fuels WBB Comeback Over Texas A&M - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
Baylor trailed most of the first half, and didn't lead until a 12-2 run during which Sims scored the first 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Sims then had the assist on Griner's layup that capped the spurt and put the Lady Bears up 27-22 with just over 4 minutes before halftime.
Sims did most of her damage at the free throw line with a game-high free throw rate of 87.5% while shooting 10-for-14 from the charity stripe. As one of a few outstanding freshman point guards in the nation, Sims played like she was grown last night.