HONOLULU – Brittney Griner and Baylor were rarely challenged during a 42-game winning streak that included a national title and a quick start to this season.
But the unfamiliar scene of Hawaii and an eager opponent in No. 4 Stanford – keen on avenging a loss in the Final Four – were too much for the top-ranked Lady Bears on Friday, who fell 71-69 to the Cardinal.
Griner scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half, helping the Lady Bears rally from a 14-point deficit in the first half. Her shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim and Stanford celebrated the victory. It was the Lady Bears’ first defeat since losing to Texas A&M in the regional finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament. Baylor went 40-0 last year with no team coming within five points of the Lady Bears.
“You don’t ever want to lose. You’re in Hawaii, you’re not under the normal circumstances of a regular practice schedule. You’re enjoying the beach and not having as much time to prepare,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We played Kentucky and had a quick tunaround to come here. It’s a great schedule for us to prepare for another national championship.”
Chiney Ogwumike scored 18 points to lead the Cardinal (3-0), who lost to Baylor in the national semifinals last season by 12 points. Her reverse layup gave Stanford a four-point lead with 22 seconds left, after Joslyn Tinkle broke the tie with a layup with just under 1 minute remaining.
Destiny Williams responded with the first 3-pointer of her career to pull Baylor (2-1) within one point.
Toni Kokenis made one of two free throws. Baylor got the rebound and advanced the ball to halfcourt before calling timeout to set up the final play.
Griner caught the ball in the low block and with three players draped on her, the 6-foot-8 star’s shot fell harmlessly off the rim setting off a wild celebration by the Cardinal at midcourt.
Stanford plays at Gonzaga on Dec. 2.