WACO, Texas - Every journey starts with a single step. For top-ranked Baylor, repeating as national champions started by winning Game One. The Lady Bears accomplished that Friday with an 80-34 victory over Lamar.
Despite a dominating second half that saw Baylor limit the Cardinals to nine points on 2-of-20 shooting as it outscored the visitors 40-9, coach Kim Mulkey was ambivalent about the outcome.
"The best thing is that it was a win, I always like to win," she said. "It wasn't pretty, but it was the first game. There was a lot of rust."
Senior Brittney Griner played 18 minutes and finished with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Junior point guard Odyssey Sims had 11 points and eight assists while senior guard Jordan Madden had 10 points, eight assists and four steals, earning post-game praise from Mulkey.
Baylor had 12 players see action and 10 of them played double figure minutes. The Lady Bears shot 53.1 percent from the field, had a 43-29 rebounding edge and outscored the Cardinals 64-10 in the paint.
"We're not gonna play anybody better than Baylor," said Lamar coach Larry Tidwell, whose team competes in the Southland Conference. "We didn't have the answer but 40 teams didn't have the answer last season. Baylor's got the best player in Brittney Griner, the best point guard in Odyssey Sims and the coach of the year (Mulkey).
Mulkey says she expects her team to get better with each practice and each game. And there were aspects of the season opener that she said needs improvement.
"I saw some selfish play, one-on-one basketball, bad shots, no ball reversal," said Mulkey, whose team extended its winning streak to 41 games. "That's a mindset. By Tuesday night we better erase that."
Baylor will face No. 6 Kentucky in the State Farm Tip Off Classic at 5 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2). That's the next step in this season's journey.