O'Neill's 43 Lead Hoops Past No. 9 Baylor in 4OT Instant Classic
Dec. 06, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Jennifer O'Neill dreamed that No. 5 Kentucky's game against No. 9 Baylor would come down to a buzzer-beater.
She just didn't imagine it could be any one of five buzzers.
O'Neill scored a career-high 43 points, including the go-ahead basket in the fourth overtime, and Kentucky beat Baylor 133-130 on Friday night in the highest-scoring Division I women's game in history.
"I don't feel anything right now," said O'Neill, who set a school scoring record. "I thought it was more overtimes to be honest."
The Wildcats (9-0) won consecutive games against top 10 teams for the first time in front of a crowd heavy with Kentucky blue at the 80,000-seat home of the Dallas Cowboys and site of the men's Final Four this season.
The Bears (7-1) played the last three OTs without star guard Odyssey Sims, who had a career-high 47 points when she fouled out with 1:23 left in the first overtime.
The previous high for a Division I women's game was 252 points in SMU's 127-125 win over TCU, also in four overtimes, on Jan. 25, 1997.
"I had a lot of faith in my team," said Sims, who topped her previous high of 37 points against Oklahoma her freshman year. "We did all we could right to the end."
It almost was the second five-overtime game in women's history. A series of missed free throws gave each team a chance to extend the game throughout the extra periods, including the last one.
O'Neill's layup with 1:42 left in the fourth OT finally put Kentucky ahead for good. She missed the second of two free throws with a two-point lead with 6 seconds left but teammate Bria Goss grabbed the rebound.
After Goss gave Baylor one more chance by missing the second of her two free throws, a desperation 3-pointer by Baylor's Alexis Prince, who was playing for the first time this season, rimmed out at the buzzer.
The end of the more than 3-hour game drew a standing ovation for both teams from a crowd that grew in size and noise while awaiting the men's game that followed between No. 3 Kentucky and No. 20 Baylor.
Sims was the second of seven Baylor players to foul out. Among the others was Nina Davis, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"I don't think that they have a meter that could measure my happiness when (Sims) got out of the game," said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell, whose team got a congratulatory visit in the locker room from men's coach John Calipari. "We just couldn't stop her."
The teams combined for 80 fouls, 47 by the Lady Bears. The Wildcats were 49 of 66 on free throws, and Baylor was 33 of 46 from the line in just its third loss since the 2011 NCAA tournament. The Lady Bears have 81 wins in that span.
The Wildcats were coming off a 69-64 victory over No. 7 Louisville, which ousted Brittney Griner and then-No. 1 Baylor in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament last season.
Baylor won the only other meeting between the teams, 85-51 last season in Waco, 100 miles south of the Cowboys' home field.
Mackenzie Robertson, the daughter of Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, matched her career high with 23 points.
"Our kids never missed a beat," Mulkey said. "They never panicked. They just played."
O'Neill, who more than doubled her previous career high of 21 against Marist last December, missed a free throw to open the door for Imani Wright's tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first overtime.
Sune Agbuke did the same late in second OT for Baylor moments after blocking a layup attempt by O'Neill. Down two, Kentucky sent the game to a third overtime on a layup by Kastine Evans with 3 seconds left.
Thompson tied the third overtime with two free throws with 22 seconds left after the Wildcats missed three layups while down two points in the final minute. Robertson missed badly on a driving shot at the buzzer.