Baylor, Griner dunk Florida St women out of NCAA
- Article by: STEPHEN HAWKINS
- Associated Press
- March 27, 2013 - 12:46 AM
WACO, Texas - Florida State players can always say they got to meet a former president and see Brittney Griner dunk three times.
There really wasn't much else they will want to remember about their second-round game in the NCAA tournament.
Griner, Baylor's 6-foot-8 senior standout, had three dunks in her final home game while scoring 33 points with a career-high 22 rebounds as the defending national champion Lady Bears beat the Seminoles 85-47 on Tuesday night.
Before Griner even had her first field goal, the Lady Bears (34-1) scored the game's first 11 points before their partisan crowd of 9,652 fans.
"Certainly, it's not an easy task to come into this environment and ask your kids to be able to block it all out," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said.
With former President George W. Bush part of the crowd packed into the Ferrell Center for the final home game of Griner's impressive career and four other seniors, the two-time All-American delivered in spectacular fashion — with one dunk before halftime and two more in a 79-second span right before coming out of the game for good.
"Tonight felt like senior night. Tonight was better," Griner said. "The three dunks. Just going out the way we did. Not everybody's lucky, and we were. We gave the crowd a good game."
Brooklyn Pope had 12 points for Baylor, which has won a nation's-best 57 games in a row at home. Point guard Odyssey Sims had 11 points and Kimetria Hayden 10.
The Lady Bears are in the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth year in a row. They play Louisville (26-8) on Sunday night in Oklahoma City.
"It's a really good basketball team, and I think they'll go really far," Semrau said.
Bush, whose Crawford ranch is only about 25 miles from the Baylor campus, spent time with both teams in their respective locker rooms right before the game.
"That's a cool thing. Not many people get a chance to meet a president of the United States," Semrau said. "It's a great honor.
Leonor Rodriguez had 11 points and was the only player in double figures for Florida State (23-10), which at the end of the regular season was the only of the 343 Division I teams with five players averaging in double figures.
Griner's opening slam came on a break after a basket by Florida State. Freshman guard Niya Johnson passed ahead to Griner, who took one step without a dribble before slamming it home with 4 minutes left in the first half for a 43-18 lead — sending crowd into a frenzy as she ran down the court with her mouth open and clearly enjoying the moment.
But she wasn't finished.
Bush had already left his front-row seats behind the Baylor bench when Griner had the last two dunks. She dunked again on another pass from Johnson with 7:46 left in the game, then had an assist on the next possession before her last dunk with 6:27 left — when she grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-pointer, took a step around a defender and slammed it home.
During a timeout less than a half-minute later, Griner — the first woman ever with three dunks in the same game — came out of her final home game for the Lady Bears.
While the crowd gave her a loud and lengthy ovation, Griner shared an extended embrace with Mulkey — and picked the coach up off the ground. After putting Mulkey down and going down to the end of the bench, Griner thrust both arms into the air to acknowledge the cheers.
"I've had lots of those from Brittney. You just hope she doesn't squeeze the air out of you so you don't pass out," said Mulkey, describing the shared moment as "just joy."
Mulkey fought back tears as the ovation continued for Griner.
And to imagine Griner might have had more dunks.
Griner looked like she was going for another slam when she was fouled by 5-foot-2 Yashira Delgado. There was later the pass from Pope that sailed over Griner's head when she was open and headed toward the basket.
Since the senior trio of Griner, Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden got to Waco as freshmen together, Baylor is 71-2 at home. Griner has played in only one loss since she didn't participate in the last home loss, against Texas in the 2009-10 regular-season finale.
The first one-handed slam for Griner came late in the first half of a game that got lopsided in a hurry.
Only six other women have ever dunked in a college game. That group had 15 dunks combined, three less than Griner's career total. The most dunks by anyone else was the seven by Tennessee's Candace Parker. Griner has 11 just this season.
"She is better in person," Semrau said. "You've got to credit her development and growth."
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