DENVER - Brittney Griner's place in women's basketball history is secure.
Blocking layups, snagging rebounds, hitting shots over two and three helpless defenders, she towered over the competition all season long to earn player of the year and outstanding player of the NCAA tournament honors.
She was simply dominant in adding national champion to her resume on Tuesday night.
Griner had 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks to lead Baylor to an 80-61 victory over Notre Dame in the NCAA women's basketball championship, capping an unparalleled 40-0 season for the Lady Bears.
"Brittney Griner, whether she won today or not, will go down in the history of the women's game as, if not the greatest post player, one of the greatest," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "I'm so glad she has that ring now."
When the buzzer sounded, Griner finally celebrated, hamming it up as she helped take down the nets and dancing with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
Then she lifted coach Kim Mulkey up on her shoulders briefly, just the way she has done for the Lady Bears during this long season.
"It meant everything for us to get it for coach," said Griner, referring to Mulkey's struggle with Bell's palsy during the tournament. "She felt like she wasn't there for us, but we told her every second that we could hear her loud and clear, everything she was saying."
Baylor became the seventh women's team to run through a season unbeaten and the first in NCAA history to win 40 games. It was the second national championship for Baylor, which also won a title in 2005.
"Looking back when we get older, I'm always going to remember this moment, always going to remember confetti falling and being here with my team," Griner said.
Baylor did it in a nearly wire-to-wire victory, finishing with a flourish when anything less than bringing a title back to Waco would have been a huge disappointment.
The 6-foot-8 Griner was right at the center of the action as the Lady Bears took control. Every time Notre Dame made a run in the second half to cut into the deficit, Griner had an answer. She showed a wide array of post moves, hitting turnaround jumpers and hooks that the Irish had no way to stop — even when they collapsed around her.
"Brittney Griner comes to work every day," Mulkey said. "A lot of great players think they're all that and they half go through drills and they come to practice and they dog it. That child comes to work and brings her work pail every day."
Notre Dame fell short in the title game for the second straight season, having lost to Texas A&M by six points last year.
Coach Muffet McGraw's senior-heavy crew did finish the season with a decided edge over rival Connecticut — the Irish won the Big East regular-season title and defeated the Huskies in three of four meetings, including the national semifinal.
But like every other team this year, Notre Dame couldn't solve Baylor and its superstar.
"I think she's one of a kind," McGraw said. "There's so many things she can do. There have been some guards that have had some skill like that. But as a post player, she's the best I've seen."
Griner, selected The Associated Press player of the year, also was named most outstanding player of the tournament.
|Dallas||27||2nd Qtr 0:51|
|Indianapolis||17||2nd Qtr 1:55|
|Jacksonville||10||2nd Qtr 1:23|
|San Diego||7||2nd Qtr 0:33|
|NY Jets||14||2nd Qtr 0:38|
|Philadelphia||14||2nd Qtr 2:06|
|New Orleans||7||2nd Qtr 0:06|
|St. Louis||3:25 PM|
|TBA||1/3/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/3/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/4/15 2:00 AM|
|TBA||1/4/15 2:00 AM|
|Oklahoma City||6:30 PM|
|New York||8:00 PM|
|Central Conn St||25||2nd Half 15:41|
|Iona||56||2nd Half 11:38|
|Concordia (MI)||28||2nd Half 11:10|
|Harvard||14||1st Half 9:10|
|Longwood||8||1st Half 11:45|
|Sacred Heart||12||1st Half 11:32|
|Colgate||14||1st Half 12:49|
|MD-Eastern Shore||24||1st Half 10:43|
|UNC Greensboro||13||1st Half 10:41|
|Marist||7||1st Half 11:23|
|NJIT||5||1st Half 13:54|
|Cincinnati Christian||12||1st Half 11:18|
|Morgan State||7||1st Half 14:23|
|Campbell||11||1st Half 12:50|
|Bucknell||14||1st Half 12:01|
|Long Beach State||14||1st Half 13:24|
|Coppin State||13||1st Half 11:15|
|UMKC||5||1st Half 13:18|
|Coast Guard||2:00 PM|
|Thomas (GA)||2:00 PM|
|Texas Southern||2:00 PM|
|NC Wesleyan||2:00 PM|
|South Dakota St||2:00 PM|
|Central Penn College||2:00 PM|
|Bowling Green||2:00 PM|
|SE Missouri St|
|Robert Morris-IL||2:00 PM|
|Northland College||2:00 PM|
|North Dakota St|
|Northwestern St||2:30 PM|
|Saint Peters||3:00 PM|
|St Katherine||3:00 PM|
|Wake Forest||3:00 PM|
|Fla Gulf Coast||3:00 PM|
|SD Christian||3:05 PM|
|Miss Valley St||4:00 PM|
|Delaware State||4:00 PM|
|NW Christian||5:00 PM|
|UC Davis||5:00 PM|
|Abilene Christian||5:00 PM|
|Stony Brook||7:00 PM|
|(15) Arizona State||36||FINAL|
|Texas A&M||12/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Oklahoma||12/29/14 4:30 PM|
|Arkansas||12/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Notre Dame||12/30/14 2:00 PM|
|(13) Georgia||12/30/14 5:45 PM|
|Maryland||12/30/14 9:00 PM|
|(9) Ole Miss||12/31/14 11:30 AM|
|(21) Boise State||12/31/14 3:00 PM|
|(8) Miss State||12/31/14 7:00 PM|
|(10) Georgia Tech|
|(19) Auburn||1/1/15 11:00 AM|
|(7) Michigan State||1/1/15 11:30 AM|
|(16) Missouri||1/1/15 12:00 PM|
|(2) Florida State||1/1/15 4:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State||1/1/15 7:30 PM|
|Houston||1/2/15 11:00 AM|
|Iowa||1/2/15 2:20 PM|
|(11) Kansas State||1/2/15 5:45 PM|
|Washington||1/2/15 9:15 PM|
|East Carolina||1/3/15 11:00 AM|
|Toledo||1/4/15 8:00 PM|
|(10) Oregon State||50||2nd Half 11:41|
|Providence||45||2nd Half 13:22|
|Florida A&M||30||2nd Half 15:01|
|Oakland||53||2nd Half 9:28|
|Chattanooga||44||2nd Half 11:35|
|Fairfield||49||2nd Half 5:47|
|St Francis-PA||15||1st Half 11:42|
|Milwaukee||11||1st Half 11:45|
|Gardner-Webb||9||1st Half 12:25|
|New Hampshire||11||1st Half 11:21|
|Bucknell||17||1st Half 11:54|
|Northeastern||16||1st Half 7:49|
|George Mason||10||1st Half 12:45|
|Richmond||5||1st Half 12:12|
|William & Mary||16|
|Tulane||10||1st Half 12:05|
|North Florida||11||1st Half 13:03|
|(14) Georgia||7||1st Half 11:59|
|Tennessee St||18||1st Half 11:42|
|American Univ||15||1st Half 8:44|
|Massachusetts||8||1st Half 14:41|
|Quinnipiac||13||1st Half 13:07|
|Lafayette||12||1st Half 8:02|
|Northwestern||14||1st Half 9:56|
|(20) Michigan State||9|
|Duquesne||13||1st Half 12:05|
|George Washington||18||1st Half 11:08|
|(17) Rutgers||8||1st Half 12:37|
|(24) Green Bay||23||1st Half 8:54|
|Western Mich||1:30 PM|
|UNC Greensboro||2:00 PM|
|VA Commonwealth||2:00 PM|
|Miss Valley St||2:00 PM|
|Saint Louis||2:00 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||2:00 PM|
|Penn State||2:00 PM|
|Sam Houston St||2:05 PM|
|South Dakota||2:30 PM|
|(4) Notre Dame||3:00 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||3:00 PM|
|Alcorn State||3:00 PM|
|Fla Gulf Coast||3:00 PM|
|(25) Arizona State|
|UC Santa Barbara||4:00 PM|
|Long Island||4:00 PM|
|Long Beach St|
|Jackson State||4:00 PM|