By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
According to the dictionary, an odyssey is a long, wandering and eventful journey and that is just what it was for West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team last night as its 13-game winning streak was ended by No. 7 Baylor and its star player, Odyssey Sims.
Sims scored more points than any player – male or female, home or visiting – ever scored in the Coliseum on Wednesday night, finishing with 48, failing to reach 50 in Baylor’s 78-62 victory only because she didn’t know she was one basket or two free throws from half a hundred.
The previous Coliseum record for points scored belonged to Notre Dame’s Austin Carr, who followed up a 55-point performance in South Bend in 1970 with a 47-point outburst in 1971.
Only three players involved in a West Virginia basketball game had scored 48 or more before Sims.
Carr did it twice, Hot Rod Hundley had 54 in 1957, and Mark Workman had 50 in 1951, those last-two being pre-Coliseum performances.
Back, though, to Sims, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring at 30.6 points a game and certainly did nothing to lose that distinction.
As the game ended, needing those two points, she stood near half court with the basketball tucked under her left arm, clapping as the final 13 seconds ticked off the clock.
Why had she not tried for 50.
“I wasn’t sure how many points I had,” she said.
And if she knew would she have driven to the basket and tried to score?
“Trick question,” the soft-spoken senior who played a secondary role to All-American Brittney Griner the last two years said. “I don’t know.”
It is almost as difficult to describe the evening Sims had as it was for WVU to guard her.
In a way she had a quadruple double, for not only did she score 48 and grab 10 rebounds, but she made 14 field goals and 14 free throws.
Toss in seven assists in what very well may be the world’s first unselfish 48-point outburst and 6 for 10 from 3-point shooting, matching WVU’s total of six 3-pointers while taking half as many shots and you understand why her coach, Kim Mulkey, would say:
“I’ve seen Odyssey play many a ball game, and she never ceases to amaze me.”
She amazed West Virginia … and angered them … and embarrassed them.
“Me, I felt anger and embarrassment,” said WVU’s best player, Asya Bussie, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. “No player should score 48 points on you. As a team it was frustrating.”
And no one was more frustrated that WVU coach Mike Carey, who preaches defense.
“Sims had 48 points … amazing … amazing to me,” he said. “We tried to double, we tried to trap … the bottom line was we didn’t guard her.”
That makes it sound like she was open all the time, which wasn’t exactly true. She created shots, especially in the second half when WVU was making runs at Baylor, cutting the lead to nine points on a couple of occasions.
The game, though, was decided in the first half when WVU came and looked like it was playing “scared,” that word belonging to Carey.
“We wouldn’t engage,” Carey said. “They were getting physical and we weren’t. We were standing around and watching the game being played.”
It was so bad that Sims outscored WVU herself, 26-25, in the first half, the team scores showing Baylor with 40 and WVU 25.
Baylor did more than just give Sims the ball, though.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Mulkey said.
Bussie managed to take only four shots in that first half while Sims shot 18 times and Baylor held Christal Caldwell, one of the Mountaineers’ top scorers, to 0-for-11 shooting and no points in 19 minutes of action.
In the end, though, it was a matter of too much Odyssey Sims … and by now you are probably wondering just where that first name came from.
“There was a show on television that my mother loved to watch, ‘Odyssey,’” she said.
And, with two brothers whose first name begin with an O it came to be she was named Odyssey.”
Good thing her mother wasn’t a “Barney Miller” fan.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.