WACO , TX -The Big 12 Conference will host the Dallas Regional of the 2011 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament at the American Airlines Center, Sunday and Tuesday, March 27 and 29. But, before those four lucky teams make it to Dallas for the Sweet 16 they must win a first and second round game, being played at four sites in Waco, Texas, Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, in Wichita, Kansas and Auburn, Georgia.
This past Sunday at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center in Waco, 8 seed Houston Lady Cougars made their first tourney appearance since 2005 against 9 seed West Virginia Lady Mountaineers. Despite a Houston comeback effort in the second half, time ran out and they lost to West Virginia 73-79.
West Virginia ‘s Liz Repella scored a game high 26; teammate Madina Ali had 13 and 15 rebounds. Brittney Scott led Houston with 24 points; Courtney Taylor and Lesslee Mason both scored 17 (Mason also had 10 rebounds).
In the nightcap, 16 seeded Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers held 1 seed Baylor Lady Bears under 70 points. Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey said PV was effective at keeping the score lower. “They passed the ball more and waiting until late in the shot clock helped them.”
But not enough to stop Baylor from getting the 66-30 win. It was a home game for Baylor and a ‘light night’ at the gym for 6’8″ sophomore Brittney Griner who scored 17 points, 8 rebounds and had six of Baylor’s 14 blocked shots.
Star teammates and local DFW high school products Brooklyn Pope (Fort Worth Dunbar) also had 17 and Kimetria Hayden (Dallas Lincoln) scored 12 points. Freshman Odyssey Sims (Irving MacArthur) had an off night scoring just five points, but don’t think that’ll last. These girls surely want some home cooking before they [hopefully] make it to Indianapolis for the Final Four.
Competition gets tougher, size and scoring more of a must the next games and especially once this shootout makes it way to the American Airlines Center starting this Sunday. Baylor players, Griner and Pope said they’ll be ready.
Day 2: On Tuesday, night Baylor senior Melissa Jones played her last game at the Ferrell Center and had 13 points in Baylor’s second round win over West Virginia Tuesday for a spot in the Sweet 16. Baylor grabbed a big lead, but in the second half West Virginia came storming back to cut Baylor’s lead to 58-51. You see, West Virginia hadn’t been in the second round so they were trying for the great upset. But instead of letting panic sink in, Griner even in foul trouble, went to work in the post thanks to her guards getting her the ball inside. She helped Baylor spark a 16-2 run and her record 30 points, eight blocks and team high four assists helped the Lady Bears pull away from West Virginia with a 82-68 win.
And Sims bounced back as expected. Along with Jones she had 13 points. Destiny Williams scored 10 and pulled down 9 rebounds for Baylor.
West Virginia’s start senior guard Repella had a 29 point game. She and teammate Vanessa House, who had 14, were the only two Lady Mountaineers in double figures.
Baylor (33-2) is now set to face a tough Green Bay Lady Phoenix team (34-1), who beat Michigan State 65-56 earlier Tuesday night at the Intrust Bank Arena center in Wichita.
Baylor went 21-0 at home this season. Let’s see how they do on neutral grounds (well, kind of, since Baylor’s only about a 1 hour and 45 minute drive south of Dallas) against 5 seeded Green Bay.
It’s going to be some kind of ladies’ night in Dallas, y’all.