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No. 2 Lady Bears scores top-ten matchup victory

Dec. 15, 2010

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Associated Press
Head coach Kim Mulkey thanks the arena's record-attendance crowd and encourages the bowl-bound football team after Baylor defeated Tennessee 65-54 in Waco on Tuesday night.

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Associated Press
No. 0 guard Odyssey Sims shoots between Tennessee players Angie Bjorklund, left, and Kamiko Williams, right, during the first half. Sims led the team with 24 points, a season high for the freshman.
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Associated Press
No. 42 power forward Brittney Griner blocks a shot attempt by Tennessee's Vicki Baugh as Sims looks on in the first half. Griner scored 21 points and blocked nine shots; through the season's first 11 games, the All-America sophomore has 250 points and 61 blocks.

By Chris Derrett
Sports editor

For every crowd-pleasing Baylor basket in its 65-54 win over Tennessee Tuesday night, there seemed to be a block or steal that kept the Ferrell Center record crowd of 10,569 equally ignited.

"I got here 11 years ago. The loudest we got [then] was when free pizza was being handed out," coach Kim Mulkey said.

Freshman Odyssey Sims led the Lady Bears with 24 points, while sophomore Brittney Griner added 21 and nine blocks. Freshman Brooklyn Pope took more than 34 minutes to score a basket, but Pat Summitt's team felt Pope's impact throughout the game with Pope's nine rebounds and four timely blocks.

Mulkey's team gave the crowd plenty of reasons to cheer Tuesday night, most importantly during a late first-half run that Tennessee was never able to overcome.

After a jumper pulled the Lady Volunteers to within 23-21, the Lady Bears mounted an 11-0 run over the final 5:05 of the first half and never looked back.

"That was huge. We just didn't answer it," Summitt said.

The Lady Volunteers were able to stay within striking distance, though, especially with 11 second-half offensive rebounds and 23 for the game leading to 14 second chance points. They opened the second half on a 6-0 run before the Lady Bears began answering with their own scores and eventually cementing the game.

Baylor took its largest lead of the game when Melissa Jones knocked down a 3-pointer for a 47-32 advantage midway through the second half. But two Lady Bear turnovers and a missed layup later, Meighan Simmons' jumper brought the score to 47-38.

Simmons was 6 of 21 for a team-high 22 points.

"I would definitely think that fatigue played a factor on both ends of the floor," Mulkey said. "Fatigue kept us from extending [the lead], and fatigue kept them from ever getting [close]."

The Lady Bears scored only four buckets over the last 8:35, one being Pope's first and only of the game as she grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back, drawing an and-1 opportunity in the process.

Although she was 1 of 8, Pope did exactly what Mulkey and the team wanted from the 6-foot-1 forward.

"Brooklyn can tell you the two things that we've asked her to do. What are they, Brook?" Mulkey asked.

"Rebound and defend," Pope quickly replied.

While Pope and Griner's 13 combined blocks defended the paint, Sims pestered the Lady Volunteers on the perimeter and stole the ball four times

The defensive effort gave Baylor energy early in the game when neither team could grab a foothold. Pope's second block of the game set up a Sims fastbreak layup that pushed the Lady Bears ahead, 12-7. After Sims' first steal, Griner made two at the line on the other end for a 19-12 lead.

The first half lead never grew, however, as Tennessee kept itself competitive and nailed jumpers that hushed the Ferrell Center. But in the end, there were not enough shots for a Lady Volunteer win.

"We didn't make shots. When you don't make shots, it can be a long, frustrating game, and it was for us," Summitt said.

Baylor held Tennessee to 25 percent shooting on the night, a season low for Summitt's squad.