A year ago, as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, the undefeated Baylor Lady Bears suffered their first loss of the season, a one-point loss to Louisville in the regional semifinals. On Saturday, Baylor made sure that its season wouldn’t end in the Sweet 16.
The Lady Bears (32-4) didn’t score 130 like they did the last time they played Kentucky, but they did put 90 points on the board, and that was all they needed in a 90-72 win over the Lady Wildcats in the Notre Dame Regional. These same two teams met in November, and it took four overtimes before Kentucky came out a 133-130 victor in the highest-scoring game in college basketball history.
Senior shooting guard Odyssey Sims led Baylor, as she has all season, with 27 points and seven assists. She became the second women’s player to score more than 1,000 points in a single season and is 41 points shy of Jackie Stiles’ record of 1,062 points set in 2001.
Sims missed her first six shots in the game, but quickly found the range, hitting eight of her final 10 shots before the half. She scored her 1,000th point of the season at the 12:40 mark in the first half.
Baylor led by four, 28-24 with just under six and a half minutes left in the opening half, but then the Lady Bears went on a 17-2 run, with Sims scoring eight of the points, to open up a double-digit deficit that Kentucky was never able to overcome.
The Lady Bears move on the Elite Eight, where they will meet No. 1 seed Notre Dame on the Fighting Irish’s home floor on Monday night. Ironically, the last game Notre Dame lost on its home floor was against Baylor. This will be the fifth time Baylor has made it to the Elite Eight, and two of those times (2005 and 2012), the Lady Bears went on to win the national championship
Notre Dame made Oklahoma State its 35th victim this season, winning 89-72 in the other semifinal game in the Notre Dame Regional.
Oklahoma State couldn’t buy a bucket in the opening minutes of the game and fell behind by 14 points within the first four minutes of the opening half.
“I don’t know if we were awestruck a little bit or not, but it did seem like we were a step behind in everything we did in the first five or six minutes,” said Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell. “We were sending two back in transition, and they were just blowing past us.
“We haven’t been on this stage before,” he said, “and sometimes you’ve got to live it and go through it to really understand what it’s like.”
The Cowgirls found themselves down 49-35 at the break. They played the Fighting Irish much closer in the second half, but the damage was already done.
Oklahoma State senior Tiffany Bias played her final game in a Cowgirls uniform. She led Oklahoma State in scoring with 17 points and also had 11 assists.
“After probably the first five to seven minutes, I thought out kids played somewhat even with them,” Littell said. “But sometimes you’ve just got to say someone’s pretty darn good. And that team is really, really good and well coached. We got beat today by a better team.”