Nnemkadi Ogwumike starts us off on the right foot with an under-and-up against Brittney Griner. We then show beautiful cuts and rotation our next possession, though Josslyn Tinkle clanks a three. Not a game to remember for her thus far. We look afraid, maybe rightfully so, to shoot off dribble drive penetration, instead kicking it out. Not saying that our coaches are better than theirs, but the first four points of the half are ours and the offense looks day-and-night different.
Brittney Griner misses two from point-blank range. For all the talk about us having to adjust to her, she has to adjust to Nneka as well. Baylor is starting to knock down its open shots, however, and if that keeps up, we might have to single-cover Griner or go zone. Meanwhile, Nneka has scored six during this four-minute stretch.
16-minute mark: Baylor 31, Stanford 31
Baylor hits a free throw and then gives us initial fits with a full-court press. We break it, but then Bonnie Samuelson steps on the sideline before swishing a would-be three. Ouch. Circle that one if we end up losing narrowly. Chiney Ogwumike is then whistled for a moving screen, which is the right call, but then Griner draws a foul on the other end, which I didn't see. A series of tough calls as Baylor jumps to a four-point lead and Chiney heads to the bench with her third foul. Better yet, though, Griner picks up her third on a Nneka drive.
Baylor bounces back, however, with an O board and then an and one. Baylor leads by six as its role players have started to make their shots, uh oh. Nneka picks up her third on a cross-check of Odyssey Sims and then Madden drives out of control and throws up a prayer… which drops. Uh oh. 11-1 Bear run. Make that 13-1 as Griner splits a double team for an eight-foot hook. Not much you can do, as we now trail by 10 on 2-of-16 three-point shooting. Chiney strips and scores uncontested though, and then Baylor is whistled for a travel.
12-minute mark: Baylor 42, Stanford 34
Ugh, the announcers have written our obituary about five times already – would love to see them shown up. I take back my first-half compliments. Chiney Ogwumike picks up her fourth on Griner with 9:27 to go and heads to the bench. They write our obituary yet again. Samuelson is called for the team's seventh on a box out, and so Baylor IS in a one-and-one. With the Bears up by eight, we could really use some front-end misses, but not to be, as both free throws drop. I'd go for broke and get Chiney back in there, personally. Instead, it's a Baylor layup and a Stanford timeout as the Baylor lead is now 12. Chiney comes back – Coach had no choice. 17-3 run for Baylor, sheesh.
Eight-minute mark: Baylor 46, Stanford 36
Chiney then fouls out but, down 10 with under eight to go, points are more important now. Baylor can only split the pair, and then Nneka grabs an O board and connects from six feet. Baylor is 12-of-16 from the line to our 4-of-5 and again splits a pair, so those Bear misses are providing a glimmer of hope.
Kokenis fills up from 18 and the lead is down to eight with six minutes to go. We'd have to be perfect the rest of the way, but… Again, Baylor splits from the line, but Amber Orrange can do no better on her free trip, and so the margin stays at eight with 5:30 left. Announcers: "This is a winnable game for Stanford." You think?
Lost in all the ebb and flow is the fact that we're 2-of-17 deep and continue to appear intimidated on the big stage. Baylor travels and we cut the lead to two possessions as Nneka follows her blocked shot for a bank shot from four feet out. Nneka then picks up her fourth, which I didn't see, but Baylor again splits a pair, so the lead is just seven.
Announcers: "I don't get the sense this team believes they can beat Baylor. The lead feels larger than seven." Yeah, that's not projection at all. And, you're right, that's why we're going to lose, belief and feelings. Not because, you know, the other team is better or has scored more points. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Four-minute mark: Baylor 50, Stanford 43
Odyssey Sims hits a three for the first nail in the coffin, as we're down by 10 with over two minutes left. My verdict on today: We played okay, not great, not awful. Should have hit, say, three or four more threes, but Baylor should have hit several more shots in the first half too, and we did a great job on Griner. I'd say Baylor played a B game as well, so with our top effort, we would have had a shot.
Ultimately, however, Baylor is the better team, and though the squads had moments to cherish and moments to forget, overall, the Bears' class showed. Our women played their hearts out tonight, as they did all season, and there's no shame in coming up short against a better team. Griner's a once-in-a-generation talent, but tonight, the rest of Baylor's team more than filled her shoes.
Final: Baylor 59, Stanford 47
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