Baylor star center Brittney Griner leads team to 40-0 season, championship
Baylor's Brittney Griner cuts down the net after the Lady Bears thrashed Notre Dame 80-61 on Tuesday night.
April 4th, 2012
09:54 AM ET

Baylor star center Brittney Griner leads team to 40-0 season, championship

If she hadn't made the point already that she and the Baylor Lady Bears were the queens of women's hoops, Brittney Griner left no doubts Tuesday night.

With their 80-61 win over Notre Dame, the Bears did the unprecedented, winning 40 straight games in a season and planting themselves firmly in the debate over which is the best women's college team ever. In a game that was close before the Bears shredded the Fighting Irish 46-33 in the second half, Griner filled the stat sheet as she's done all season.

Playing all but one minute, the Naismith Trophy winner tallied 26 points, 13 boards and five blocks. Oh, and she tossed in an assist for good measure. Her shooting percentage in the second half? A lights-out 89%.

While all the talk after the men's championship revolved around the next level - who's going to the pros, who's staying for another year - Griner, a junior, has insisted she will forgo making upwards of $1 million, a fortune in women's hoops, to play for the Lady Bears her senior season. Yes, even if Baylor won the championship game, she has said.

The Lady Bears' performance made them only the 10th women's team to run the table since 1972, when the tournament era began.

Now, undefeated seasons in women's hoops aren't the shooting stars they are in the men's game. The Connecticut Huskies' women's team went 39-0 in 2002, 2009 and 2010, whereas the last men's team to run the table was the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

Coach Kim Mulkey, who never sat during the game despite battling Bell's palsy over the last week, said she couldn't have been prouder of her squad.

This from a woman who holds a gold medal from the 1984 Olympics and is the only person to win an NCAA championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. (She won two titles as a point guard at Louisiana Tech before helping lead the Lady Techsters to the 1988 championship as an assistant.)

"I just hugged them and told them, 'I'm so happy for you guys. Thank you for letting me coach you. Thank you for letting me challenge you,' " Mulkey said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I said it to all of them. There were many tears on that bench, but they were tears of joy."

She had the highest of praise for her star center, the paper reported.

"Brittney Griner may go down in history as the most dominant post player, especially on the defensive end," Mulkey said. "That child comes to work every day."

The 6-foot-8 Griner has been breaking the mold of the female player for years - like the time she posted a quadruple-double (36 points, 15 rebounds, 15 blocks and 10 assists) during a high school game, or when she put down 52 dunks during her senior season in high school, or when she dunked four times as a freshman at Baylor, or when she tallied 23 points a game during her sophomore and junior seasons, or when she became the second woman to dunk during an NCAA Tournament in last month's game against the Florida Gators.

There has even been talk that she could hang with the big boys in the NBA - though I'll stop right there so as not to rile up the clowns on Twitter who can't get over the fact that she's tall.

Seeing as the women's championship didn't get nearly the attention of Monday night's men's championship, there's probably a lot you don't know about Griner. Here are some interesting tidbits:

- She has an 84-inch wingspan and her standing one-arm reach is 110 inches, only 10 inches shy of the rim.

- She wears a men's size 17 shoe. To put it in perspective, Shaquille O'Neal wears a 22.

- Despite the praise heaped upon her, Griner remains largely humble, brushing off notions that she is revolutionizing the game. At the same time, she is a true showwoman and puts on dunking clinics during pregame warmups, to the crowd's delight. She's even done cartwheels across the field at Baylor football games.

- One of four siblings, she was born in Houston, Texas, on October 18, 1990, and played at Nimitz High School in Houston, so she's been playing in East Texas for a minute.

- She set a block record at Nimitz, once registering 25 in a game against Aleif Hastings High.

- Her high school jersey is one of 25 in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame's Ring of Honor.

- She made the cover of ESPN's Rise magazine in December 2008 and the cover of Slam in February 2009.

- Houston Mayor Bill White declared May 7, 2009, as Brittney Griner Day.

- Baylor has a 101-13 record since she joined the team and has advanced to at least the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight in all three of Griner's seasons.

- She is a general studies major with an emphasis in outdoor recreation.

- Griner is ranked first and third in blocks during an NCAA season. This year, she had 175, while on the men's side, the Kentucky Wildcats' shot blocker extraordinaire, Anthony Davis, had 186.

- She was the first female athlete to be evaluated in-studio for ESPN's "Sports Science."

- On March 3, 2010, she was ejected from a game against Texas Tech after punching Jordan Barncastle in the face following a scuffle under the rim. The punch broke Barncastle's nose.

- She is a finalist for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that will play in London this summer. As the only college player on the team for its European Tour last year, she averaged almost 13 points and eight rebounds. She was the team's top shot blocker as well. Surprise, surprise.

- She is often seen riding a longboard around campus. She once described herself to the Chronicle as a "humongous kid" and said, "I do lots of stuff besides basketball. I'm an outdoors person. I go kayaking. I like to go mountain biking down hills, longboarding. I'm adventurous … maybe reckless. I'm a thrill seeker."

- She also enjoys working on cars and watching football in her spare time.

- A frequent speaker at local schools, she volunteers her time with the Salvation Army, Waco Zoo, Waco's Gospel Cafe, South Waco Recreation Center and Woodway Family Center. She also chips in with former Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis, who hosts an annual Holiday Bowling and Christmas Party for underprivileged children.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Sports • Texas • U.S.
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Lola


    April 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janet29383

      You're an idiot. Why did you comment?

      April 4, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • tez07

      might be sleep apnea, I would suggest you see your physician

      April 4, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |

    One of four siblings, she was
    born in Houston, Texas, on
    October 18, 1990, and
    played at Nimitz High
    School in Houston, so she
    has been balling in East
    Texas for a minute (Baylor
    is in Waco, Texas).

    April 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    @CNN...By allowing racist and negative comments like "Lola"s you open the door for similar posts....ANYBODY HOME IN INTERN LAND?

    April 4, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • dwnwthvwls

      In what way was Lola's comment racist?

      April 4, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hoopster

    I get that the theme of this story is about the star, not the team, but for those who care (CNN obviously doesn't), the final score was 80-61.

    April 4, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. tina in maryland

    I thought the Women's Final Four was incredible this year! Brittney Griner certainly contributed to the excitement! Go girl!!

    April 4, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet29383

      Agreed! It was their year. They deserved it.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    Hoopster, apparently you didn't care enough either to read the article. It states the final score in the 2nd sentence.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Hoopster

      AFTER they revised the article...

      April 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Left Side

    If she's not pregnant or shooting somebody, Lola isn't interested,.....typical POS,.......

    Go Brittany! You DO YOU Gyrl!!

    April 4, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. keb carerra

    Very cool

    April 4, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. jay12312

    These basketball playing chic are ugly.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • oksoithink is your grammar, think about it.

      April 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    Is it really necessary to cut down the net?

    April 4, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      It's not "necessary" any more than having a tournament (or a men's tournament, for that matter) is "necessary," but a championship team taking down the net is traditional at all non-youth levels, although the bit about each player cutting off a small piece of the net to keep is a relatively modern thing.

      April 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. say it ain't so

    What an inspiration and great role model to others.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    Lol women's basketball. People actually care about this?

    April 4, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet29383

      Um yeah. They do care. If you don't, then why did you comment? Idiot.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    That dude can ball.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet29383

      I wish people like you would stop calling her a man and she isn't a man. She's a woman. But yeah. She is a great player and she will be a beast when she goes pro next year.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. mike

    I can't stand this girl. Every time they show her on Sportscenter, it's her dunking then giving a ridiculous scowl to whomever she dunked on. You're only allowed to do that if it was an impressive dunk, but she has like a 5"'s just not impressive. Stop with the posing. We get it, you're tall and you have a testosterone imbalance. You're the female equivalent of George Muresan. Way to go.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      By the way, I thought I was joking about her 5" vertical, but I looked it up. She ACTUALLY ONLY HAS A 5" VERTICAL. LOL. Good lord.

      Serena Williams is a female athlete. This woman is just freakishly tall.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Zebula


      April 4, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Me

    No one cares. No one. I know it's sad, but no one cares. No one.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet29383

      No one cares? Maybe you dont but why even comment? People DO care. but if you don't they why comment?

      April 4, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
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