DENVER – One win from perfection.
Brittney Griner was constantly hounded and double-teamed, scoring only one basket in the second half. So the Baylor supporting cast jumped in and carried the unbeaten Bears to the national championship game.
Griner finished with 13 points and nine rebounds to lead Baylor to a 59-47 win over Stanford on Sunday night and into the womens NCAA final against Notre Dame.
Baylor (39-0) is one victory from becoming the seventh team to finish undefeated and has a chance at being the first squad in NCAA history to win 40 games in a season.
The top-seeded Bears will face Notre Dame on Tuesday night for the title. The Irish beat UConn 83-75 in an overtime thriller in the first semifinal. Baylor and Notre Dame met in the preseason WNIT final, with the Bears winning in Waco 94-81 on Nov. 17.
Stanford (35-2) fell short in the Final Four for the fifth straight season, ending its school-record 32-game winning streak.
The Cardinal refused to let the 6-foot-8 Griner beat them, collapsing on her in the paint. The strategy worked for the first 20 minutes before the other Bears started making shots.
Trailing 31-29 early in the second half, the Bears went on an 11-1 run keyed by Jordan Madden. The junior guard had an acrobatic three-point play and then a layup that made it 40-32. Griner followed with her only basket of the half, hitting a tough baseline turnaround that capped the burst.
The Cardinal could only get within six the rest of the game despite Nnemkadi Ogwumikes best efforts. The senior led the Cardinal with 22 points and nine rebounds. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer took her out with about 30 seconds left and gave her a long embrace.
The 6-foot-2 forward, who will most likely be the top pick in the WNBA draft April 16, did all she could to keep the Cardinal in the game, but got little help.
Her younger sister, Chiney, who had such a strong sophomore season, was ineffective. She fouled out midway through the second half with just four points.
Baylor has been focused with the mantra of Unfinished Business all season long.
The Bears were eliminated in the Regional finals by Texas A&M last year.