Odyssey Sims scored 27 points and Brittany Griner added 23 as top ranked Baylor advanced to the NCAA womens’ Final Four with a 77-58 win over Tennessee in a regional final in Des Moines. Baylor held Tennessee to just 30% shooting for the game, including four of 21 from three point range.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey says they have been one of the leaders in field goal defense all year and it is something the take pride in as it is something that can help you win late into the season. It may have been the final game in the legendary career of Tennessee coach Pat Summit, who was diagnosed with “early onset dementia” last summer.
“It’s not fun for me to coach against Pat,” Mulkey said. She said she has a job to do and her relationship with Summit would never interfere with helping her team win a national championship.
Tennessee did a good job of defending Griner in the opening half but the Bears opened up the lead with perimeter shooting. Sims finished the game five of eight from three point range.
Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said they got in a hole after Baylor made eight threes. Warlick says the Lady Vols showed a lot of resolve this season despite Summit’s illness. “this team was responsive, and I wouldn’t trade anything we did this year. Obviously, I would want Pat’s health to be better. But, I think like Pat, this team never gave up, and they never used it as a crutch for how they were playing of what they did this year,” Warlick said.
Warlick said no matter what the future holds for their head coach the program will move forward and continue to do what Tennessee has always done. “It’s been difficult, but it’s been a great year and a fun time. Coach Summit, she had a great year this year, she loved it, and I was just proud of everything she’s done and how she’s conducted herself,” Warlick said.
Tennessee ends the season with a record of 27-9. Baylor takes a 38-0 record to Denver and a spot in the Final Four.