Gauchos overpowered by top-seeded Baylor

The madness that comes with the NCAA Tournament wouldn’t effect the first-round women’s basketball game between UCSB and top-seeded and undefeated Baylor.

Riding on the battle cry, “Unfinished Business,” the Lady Bears took the first step toward their goal of winning a national championship by blowing out 16th-seeded UCSB 81-40 on Sunday at the Bowling Green University Stroh Center.

Brittney Griner was imposing as expected, but the Lady Bears showed they have other weapons, too, as four other players scored in double figures.

The towering 6-8 Griner, who at times was guarded by two Gaucho players, finished with 14 points on 7 of 11 shooting and had three blocked shots. She played 22 minutes. Brooklyn Pope added 13 points, Destiny Williams had 12, Sune Agbuke 11 and Odyssey Sims chipped in 10 for the 35-0 Lady Bears, who advanced to a second-round matchup against ninth-seeded Florida on Tuesday night.

Emilie Johnson scored 10 points and Kirsten Tilleman added 8 to lead UCSB (17-16), which reached the tournament in coach Carlene MItchell’s first year.

The 6-1 Tilleman didn’t back down against Griner, the overwhelming favorite to win national player of the year honors.

“I went into the game thinking that I’m not going to let her just push me around, and I tried to set the tone early,” Tilleman told the media. “Sometimes the refs will let you play like that and sometimes they won’t, and I wasn’t able to do it the entire game. But at least they know who we are.”

Baylor’s tight player-to-player defense forced the Gauchos into five clock-shot violations and several turnovers in building a 46-16 lead by halftime. The Lady Bears scored the first 12 points before Tilleman hit a jumper for UCSB.

“Championships are won on the defensive end of the floor, championships are won on guard play,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I thought our guard play was especially effective from the defensive end with being active, being in passing lanes.”

UCSB’s Mitchell gave kudos to Baylor.

“We played against maybe the eventual national champion,” she said. “We were outmanned, it’s pretty obvious, at every position, and you have to give Baylor all the credit.”

UCSB struggled to get into an offensive rhythm and find its shooting touch, making just 16 of 60 shots.

“We couldn’t even get entry passes to the wings so we started trying to use dribble routes,” Mitchell said. “They’re the real deal.”

UCSB was making its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance while it was Baylor’s 11th time in The Big Dance. UCSB’s record is now 7-14 all-time in NCAA Tournaments.