Led by national player of the year Brittney Griner, Baylor University lived up to the hype Tuesday by becoming the first NCAA basketball team — women or men — to complete a 40-0 season by defeating Notre Dame, 80-61, in the NCAA women’s championship.
During the contest, Griner had 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as Baylor captured its second national championship in the school’s history.
“Looking back when we get older, I’m always going to remember this moment, always going to remember confetti falling and being here with my team,” Griner said as she and her teammates hugged and celebrated.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was at a loss for words following her team’s championship victory.
“I’m just so happy,” Mulkey said. “You know that old saying, ‘You’re so happy you can cry?’ I can’t stop crying.”
The 6-foot-8 Griner, who was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, was right at the center of the action as the Lady Bears took control.
Every time Notre Dame made a run in the second half to cut into the deficit, Griner had an answer. She showed a wide array of post moves, hitting turnaround jumpers and hooks that the Irish had no way to stop – even when they collapsed around her.
“It meant everything to us to get this championship for Coach,” said Griner, who averaged 23.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks in her 6 NCAA tournament games.
Odyssey Sims added 19 points and Destiny Williams had 12 for the Lady Bears, who out-rebounded Notre Dame 46-27 and now have the third unbeaten season in women’s basketball in the last four years. UConn, which has gone undefeated four times, did it in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. Texas and Tennessee also have unbeaten seasons.
For the Fighting Irish (35-4), a second straight trip to the title game ended in heartbreak. They lost 76-70 to Texas A&M last season.
Notre Dame was led in scoring by Skylar Diggins, who had 20 points. Natalie Novosel, one of the top Irish scorers, had a rough night. She finished 0 of 11 with five points.
Check out the highlights from Brittney Griner and rest of Lady Bears during their 2012 NCAA Championship title win in the video below: