40 wins and some finished business. Behind a dominating performance on both sides of the court from Wade Trophy winner Brittney Griner, the Baylor Lady Bears won their second National Championship, this one over Notre Dame 80-61. The Lady Bears led the last 35 minutes of the game, and by as many as 25 points. Notre Dame cut the 6 point lead down to 3, trailing 42-39. From that point though, the Lady Bears would go on a 35-11 run over the next 11 minutes of action.
At the middle of the run for the Lady Bears was the Naismith Player of the Year and unanimous All-American Britney Griner. She made her first 7 field goal attempts in the second half from all areas of the low post. She went over double teams, traps and even went around a few Lady Irish. Griner finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds to go along with 5 blocks.
The Lady Bears moved the ball extremely well on their way to 20 assists on just 29 made field goals versus only 9 turnovers. However, it was their defense that led them all year, and it did its job this game as well. Baylor held Notre Dame to just 35.5% shooting, but more importantly held the Lady Irish scoreless during a 5 minute run in the second half that saw the lead grow from 11 to 25 points.
For Notre Dame, Skylar Diggins scored 20 points and really kept them in the game for most of it. However, only one other Irish player would finish with more than 8 points. The Lady Bears though had 5 players with 8 points or more, with Odyssey Sims almost matching Diggins with 19 points. Sims would also add 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals with Diggins getting just 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Outside of Diggins, the Lady Irish shot just 15-45 and simply struggled to get shots to fall. Their second leading scorer Natalie Novosel was 0-11. Devereaux Peters was held to minimal minutes due to foul trouble and only got 7 points.
Despite a 14 point lead in the first half, and foul trouble to their star Skylar Diggins and best post player Devereaux Peters both with two fouls and on the bench, Notre Dame fought back to cut the lead down to 6 points at halftime. The Irish switched their defenses many times during the game, but held the Lady Bears to just 4 points in over 5 minutes of play near the end of the first half. However it was just too much Baylor in the second half.
The Lady Bears dominated the paint, and out-rebounded Notre Dame 45 to 24, with 16 offensive rebounds. They went inside to Griner time and time again in the second half shooting 63% (17-27) including hitting all three of the 3-point field goals after going just 1-8 in the first half.
Baylor received contributions from all over the court. Brooklyn Pope provided a huge lift off the bench with 8 points and 4 offensive rebounds to go along with some much needed energy early. Destiny Williams hit 5 of her 7 shots from the field and ended up with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Kimetria Hayden hit two big 3-pointers on her way to 8 points. The lone senior for the Lady Bears, Terran Condrey came in and fought her way to 5 rebounds, 6 points and 2 assists.
Baylor is the first college basketball team, mens or womens to finish the season with 40 wins. They defeated all comers, including going 4-0 against the other #1 seeds that all made the Final Four.