WACO, Texas – Odyssey Sims scored 27 points in her final home game and Baylor advanced to its sixth consecutive regional semifinals, taking over in the second half for a 75-56 victory over California on Monday night.
Sims punctuated a game-clinching 13-2 run with a long 3-pointer with 4½ minutes left. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey could only smile even though she appeared to be calling for a different play from the sideline. Sims scored 11 points in that spurt of about 5 minutes that pushed Baylor (31-4) ahead 66-52.
Afure Jemerigbe had 17 points and Brittany Boyd 15 for Cal (22-10), a Final Four team last season. Boyd was often gimpy and grimacing in the game, put played all but the final 46 seconds even while dealing with a right ankle injury for several weeks.
Baylor, the No. 2 seed in the Notre Dame Regional, plays Kentucky (26-8) on Saturday in South Bend, Ind. That will be a rematch of the highest-scoring Division I women's game ever. The Wildcats won 133-130 in four overtimes the first weekend of December at the Dallas Cowboys' NFL stadium that will host the men's Final Four. Sims scored 47 points before being one of seven Lady Bears to foul out of that game.
Sims, the Big 12's top player also had eight rebounds and six assists for Baylor. Nina Davis, the league's top freshman, had 13 points and six rebounds. Niya Johnson had 11 assists.
After the game, the senior trio of Sims, Makenzie Robertson and Mariah Chandler held hands and basically skipped around the arena to share a victory lap while being cheered by the home fans. Baylor lost only two home games during the four seasons for Sims and Robertson, the coach's daughter who waited her turn before becoming a starter this season.
The battle of Bears included seven ties and 17 lead changes before halftime, when Baylor was without both Sims and Davis for 7½ minutes because of fouls. Both scored more than 30 pointers in Baylor's opening-round victory over Western Kentucky.
Baylor played the final 8:10 of the first half without Sims, and Davis joined her on the bench 37 seconds later after also getting her second foul.
But it was while they were the bench that Baylor built its biggest lead of the first half.
Khadijiah Cave, a 6-foot-2 freshman post, scored three inside baskets in a span of just more than 2 minutes. Her putback with 4:58 left making it 29-25.
The last lead change came on freshman Imani Wright's 3-pointer just before halftime for a 34-33 lead.
Baylor then scored the first seven points after halftime, a layup by Davis before two free throws and a basket by Sims.
Boyd made a jumper with 13:56 left to tie the game at 44, but Cal never could go ahead again. Cave, who finished with 10 points, put Baylor ahead to stay with another layup.