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Bittersweet 16

June 28, 2013

bittersweet

Bittersweet 16

The Lady Bears' 2013 run toward a second-straight national title was derailed in the Sweet 16 by eventual NCAA tournament runner-up Louisville, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of a squad that had been ranked No. 1 for most of the season.

In what would prove to be the final game of Brittney Griner's college career, the Cardinals swarmed the Baylor post with a defense that even ESPN's commentators said was unacceptably physical. Louisville limited Griner to just four made field goals, but the Lady Bears still battled back from a 17-point deficit to take the lead with 9 seconds remaining. A questionable foul on Griner allowed the Cardinals to hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left for an 82-81 victory.

The Lady Bears finished the season with a 34-2 record and ranked No. 4 in the country (with one first place vote) in the final USA Today Coaches Poll.

Griner was named the AP Player of the Year, USBWA Ann Meyers-Drysdale Player of the Year, and winner of the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy; in so doing, she became the first women's basketball player ever to sweep all five major national player of the year awards in consecutive seasons.

The 6-foot-8 post was also named the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year (for the third straight year) after finishing her Baylor career as the NCAA career leader in blocks and dunks and second all-time in career scoring.

Griner and teammate Odyssey Sims were each named first-team All-Americans by the WBCA, the Wooden Award, the USBWA and the AP. Sims will enter her senior season this winter ranked second in Baylor history in career assists and 10th in career scoring; she was also one of five finalists for the Lieberman Award (given annually to the nation's top point guard), one of 12 finalists for the Wade Trophy, and one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award.

Head coach Kim Mulkey, the 2012 consensus national coach of the year, was a finalist again for the Naismith and WBCA coach of the year honors and was runner-up for AP Coach of the Year.

After Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban floated the possibility of selecting Griner in this summer's NBA draft, Griner was selected in mid-April with the first overall pick of the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury -- the first Baylor player ever selected first overall in any major league draft. Brooklyn Pope, BSED '12, was also drafted in the third round by the Chicago Sky; the teammates were the eighth and ninth Lady Bears selected in WNBA draft history.

Next season will be a year of transition for the program, as the Lady Bears say goodbye to their top five rebounders and five of their top six scorers (Griner, Pope, Destiny Williams, BSED '13, Jordan Madden and Kimetria Hayden, BSED '13). Into their stead will step the nation's No. 9-ranked recruiting class, led by four national top-100 signees in forward Nina Davis and guards Ieshia Small, Imani Wright and Breanna Hayden (Kimetria's sister).

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