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DENVER -- A look at the first half of Tuesday's national championship game between Baylor and Notre Dame.
HOW THE HALF WAS WON: Baylor was just physically better than the Irish in the first half. The Lady Bears made the Irish work for everything they did. Baylor got to the line 11 times to Notre Dame's six and outrebounded the Irish 25-17. Baylor is bigger than Notre Dame and used that to its advantage well in the first half.
PLAYER OF THE HALF: Brittney Griner. Once again, it wasn't a great Griner performance, but she occupied enough of the Irish's attention to allow some of the other Lady Bears, such as Destiny Williams (3-for-4 shooting for eight points) and Brooklyn Pope (2-for-3 shooting for six points), to get free near the basket. Griner finished with a team-high nine points and eight rebounds.
PLAYER OF THE HALF 2: Skylar Diggins. Despite playing most of the first half with a sense of frustration and being harassed by Odyssey Sims, Diggins had an Irish-best nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. She also didn't turn over the ball. Her scoring became even more important because Natalie Novosel had only three points, all from the line.
TURNING POINT: When Devereaux Peters picked up her second foul at the 17:22 mark, Notre Dame had to change its defensive approach. Coach Muffet McGraw went to a zone the rest of the half. Baylor didn't explode immediately after Peters' exit from the game, but during the nearly seven minutes she was out, Baylor took its biggest lead, 27-15.
KEY STAT: Baylor won the rebounding battle 25-17, but more importantly, 11 of those rebounds came on the offensive end. Getting to the glass was really Baylor's best offensive weapon.
THREE THINGS BAYLOR HAS TO DO TO WIN:
1. Keep up the intensity. The Lady Bears' defense was better for most of the half than it was against Stanford. Notre Dame got loose for a couple of backdoor layups, but otherwise, Baylor made Notre Dame really work on every possession.
THREE THINGS NOTRE DAME HAS TO DO TO WIN:
1. Settle down. The Irish looked uncomfortable on offense for the first 10 minutes of the half, hurrying the release of shots even when Griner wasn't nearby. That improved as the half went on, but Novosel and Brittany Mallory still shot only a combined 1-for-10 in the first 20 minutes.