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Griner leads Baylor over Notre Dame in title game rematch
South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Brittney Griner registered 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, as third-ranked Baylor pulled away late to deal No. 5 Notre Dame its first loss, 73-61 in a rematch of last season's national championship game.
Odyssey Sims tallied 16 points, Brooklyn Pope had 14 and Jordan Madden chipped in 12 with eight assists for the Lady Bears (7-1). The defending national champions, who finished off a 40-0 season with an 80-61 win over Notre Dame, prevailed despite turning the ball over 20 times.
Skylar Diggins, who came into the game averaging 14 points, was limited to eight on 4-of-19 shooting for the Fighting Irish (5-1). Freshman guard Jewell Loyd scored 24 points, Kayla McBride added 18, and Natalie Achonwa ended with 11 in defeat.
Diggins canned a jumper with 7:40 left to tie the game at 52-52, but Baylor scored the next 10 points, finished by a layup from Sims. She scored six during the burst, which extended until past the four-minute mark.
The Irish never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
"I just took it one play at a time. I was looking to post up strong when I had to," Griner said. "I got out of the post sometimes so they couldn't double- team me that much. I was just trying to help the team."
Earlier, Loyd's 3-pointer moved the Irish to a 20-11 lead with 7:36 left, but Baylor later responded with a 10-0 burst. Pope's jumper capped the rally for a 31-25 difference with 1:14 left in the half.
Baylor shot nearly 56 percent, while holding Notre Dame to under 32 percent in the opening 20 minutes, but the Lady Bears netted only a 33-27 lead at the break.
"It's the beginning of December and this is a great game for us to play at home," Diggins said. " It gave us a lot of confidence and we got to see that players like Jewell can step up and have the game she had. I think the issue is the same as Coach (Muffet McGraw) said. We need contribution from the bench, but I thought that we could have won with the team we had out there."
12/05 23:35:27 ET