No. 1 Baylor holds on, 77-69 over Oklahoma State
DALLAS (AP) — With the NCAA tournament right around the corner, maybe this was just the kind of reminder defending national champion Baylor needed of how to hold on in a tight game.
Brittney Griner and the top-ranked Lady Bears might not be able to overcome these sort of mistakes as they get deeper into March.
Baylor had a series of uncharacteristic turnovers that fueled a furious late charge by Oklahoma State, but the Lady Bears never trailed in a 77-69 victory Sunday in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.
"It was good for us to a certain extent," Brooklyn Pope said.
The Lady Bears (31-1) have won 48 consecutive Big 12 regular-season and tournament games — most by a large margin. They have gone through the last two regular seasons without a league loss and now play in their third consecutive conference tournament title game Monday night against No. 2 seed Iowa State (23-7).
"We've been beating teams by 30-plus. We've been getting bored out there sometimes," point guard Odyssey Sims said. "Having a close game like this wakes us up, makes us realize that just because we're the No. 1 seed doesn't mean we can't be beat."
Griner had 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks while Sims and Pope each had 12 points for Baylor, which overcame a season-high 24 turnovers — 18 in the second half that helped keep the Cowgirls (21-10) in the game.
Destiny Williams added 10 points for Baylor and Sims had seven assists.
Toni Young had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma State. Liz Donohoe added 20 points and Tiffany Bias scored 19.
Oklahoma State trailed by 17 after Sims converted a nifty three-point play with 15 minutes left. The Cowgirls cut it to 72-69 with 1:34 remaining when Bias converted a steal into a breakaway layup, but those were their last points of the day.
"Very proud of our basketball team," Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. "We went toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the nation. ... It's something that's a step in the right direction for our program. We can build off this."
With the shot clock running down early in the second half, Sims made a move and pushed the ball toward the rim. The ball went in as she was fouled, prompting Baylor coach Kim Mulkey to emphatically pump her arm to go with a leg kick.
The Lady Bears led 54-37 when Sims made the free throw for a three-point play.
Baylor still had a comfortable lead with 5½ minutes left after Griner scored inside to make it 69-56. But the Lady Bears committed three turnovers in less than a minute to spark seven points in a row by the Cowgirls.
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