Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Breaking down Baylor's quest for perfection
By ESPN Stats & Info
Getty Images/AP Photo
This will be an historic night in women’s college basketball. Either Baylor becomes the first men’s or women’s team to reach 40 wins in a season, or the Lady Bears become the first team to enter the title game undefeated and not win the trophy.
Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner will try and lead their respective teams to a second national title.
Standing in Baylor’s way of a perfect season is Notre Dame, which will be trying to avoid consecutive championship game losses (lost to Texas A&M last season). The Fighting Irish lost to the Lady Bears in a championship game once already this season, losing 94-81 in the Preseason WNIT. But the Irish did score 13 more points against Baylor than any other team this season (Georgia Tech scored 68 on March 24).
One key to beating Baylor (or at least staying close) is the ability to hit the 3-point shot. Of the teams that have finished within single digits of the Lady Bears this season, three of them hit at least seven shots from beyond the arc.
Baylor is led by Brittney Griner, who won the 2012 State Farm Wade Trophy, considered “The Heisman of Women’s Basketball.” Griner is the first Lady Bears player to win the award and Baylor is the first school to unite both the Heisman Trophy and the Wade Trophy in the same school year.
Griner’s impact can be felt on both ends of the court. Griner is averaging 22.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game in the NCAA tournament. In addition, she’s recorded two dunks during the tournament and is tied with former Tennessee great Candace Parker with seven career dunks, the most among women’s Division I basketball players.
Defensively, Griner holds the career record for blocks in women’s tournament play (88) and is only six blocks shy of joining Louella Tomlinson of St. Mary’s as the only players with 600 career blocked shots (Tomlinson has 663 blocks).
It’s not all Brittney Griner, though. Sophomore point guard Odyssey Sims is a second-team AP All-American and she won the battle with Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins in the first meeting between these teams.
Since 1995, when Connecticut won its first national title, the Huskies and Tennessee are the only teams in the nation to win multiple championships (12 of the 17 championships held). After this title game, either Baylor or Notre Dame will join the club, winning a second championship during that span.