DURHAM, N.C. —
Sims pleased the crowd again a few minutes later when she almost kicked the ball out of bounds on a fast break, but saved it to Brooklyn Pope. Sims was waiting for a return pass under the basket, and the layup put Baylor ahead 62-28.
A 3-pointer from Sims made it 70-30 with 9:07 remaining, and when Sims and Griner left the game less than 3 minutes later, Griner had as many points as the Lady Panthers.
“This crowd was pretty electric tonight,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “They didn’t wait until the dunk to get excited. I just think it was like a snowball effect. We did one thing. We started doing another thing. That’s just kids playing hard. That’s kids understanding this is tournament time.”
Baylor’s lead was just 22-15 midway through the first half when Mulkey called timeout and stared down Hayden for leaving Gabrielle Scott open for a 3-pointer that gave Prairie View five points in just 35 seconds.
The Lady Bears scored the next five points coming out of the timeout to start a 17-4 run that put them ahead 39-19 late in the first half. Griner, who had her 61st career double-double, scored 10 in the spurt and had 20 in the first half.
Playing for the first time in nearly two weeks, Baylor let the Lady Panthers stay close in the first few minutes, thanks in part to a stretch of a minute and a half when the Lady Bears didn’t even get off a shot.
Prairie View got a steal and had three straight offensive rebounds before Kiara Etienne hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Panthers their only lead at 6-5.
“I think we came out a little too excited,” Sims said. “They forced us to shoot jumpers. We didn’t attack the goal from the jump. We knew what we had to do. We slowly picked it up and got back on track.”
Prairie View qualified for the tournament by beating Mississippi Valley State in four overtimes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game.