Sims leads Baylor past Kentucky

Published 9:20 am Monday, March 31, 2014

Baylor’s Odyssey Sims drives to the basket against Kentucky Saturday afternoon. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Baylor’s Odyssey Sims drives to the basket against Kentucky Saturday afternoon. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

NOTRE DAME — It was too much Odyssey Sims of the Kentucky Wildcats in the first regional semifinal at Notre Dame Saturday.

Sims, the All-American point guard, scored 25 points as the Bears rolled to a 90-72 win over Kentucky to advance to Monday’s regional title game against either host Notre Dame or Oklahoma State.

The Irish and Cowgirls square off in the second semifinal at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Sims got off to a slow start against the Wildcats, missing a couple of early shots, but finished 8-of-16 to lead all scorers with 18 points at halftime.

After surviving an early Baylor barrage, Kentucky was able to close a double-digit lead down to four points late in the first half.

But another Bears’ run over the final two minutes of the first half increased their lead to 19 point (49-30).

Baylor settled for a 49-32 lead at halftime.

Kentucky’s only lead of the game came with 17:44 showing on the clock as it grabbed a 5-4 advantage.

Behind the play of All-American guard Sims, Baylor was able to shot 50 percent from the field (17-34) in the opening 20 minutes. Sims led all scorers with 18 points, but picked up a third foul in the closing moments of the first half.

Kentucky couldn’t find the basket for much of the first half and wound up hitting just 9-of-36 attempts from the field (25 percent).

Baylor maintained a comfortable double-digit lead throughout most of the first 10 minutes of the second half, which it increased to 20 points midway through the final 20 minutes.

From there, it was a matter of playing out the string for Baylor and marching into the finals with a full head of steam.

The Bears wound up shooting 47.8 percent (32-67). Besides Sims’ total, Nina Davis finished with 20 points. Baylor outrebounded the Wildcats 47-39.

Kentucky (26-9) improved its shooting to 34.8 percent (24-69), but couldn’t overcome its first half woes.

DeNesha Stallworth led the Wildcats with 19 points. Linnae Harper came off the bench to add 14.