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Griner dunks as Baylor stops UF

Baylor star Brittney Griner plays keepaway with Florida’s Azania Stewart and Deana Allen during the first half.

Associated Press

Baylor star Brittney Griner plays keepaway with Florida’s Azania Stewart and Deana Allen during the first half.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Brittney Griner took a pass, stepped toward the basket, stretched out her right arm and slammed the ball through.

Then the Baylor star reacted in typically modest fashion.

"I think my team got fired up a little bit more than me. I got a little bit more fired up, I think, on one of the blocks I had," Griner said. "But it definitely felt good throwing it down."

Griner became the second woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game Tuesday night, and top-seeded Baylor rolled to a 76-57 win over ninth-seeded Florida. The 6-foot-8 junior phenom went nearly 12 minutes without scoring at the beginning of the game, but she finished with 25 points.

The highlight, of course, was Griner's dunk early in the second half.

"That wasn't just a barely-over-the-rim type of dunk. That was a monster dunk," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "I think Brittney is so conscious of people writing good or bad about the dunk, that she's scared to get excited sometimes and celebrate a dunk, because she's been written about in a negative way. I said, 'Honey, if I could dunk it, I'd do backflips down the floor.' "

Odyssey Sims added 14 points for Baylor (36-0). Azania Stewart led Florida (20-13) with 14.

Tennessee's Candace Parker dunked twice in an NCAA Tournament game in 2006 against Army. Griner's dunk was her first of the season and sixth of her career. Parker holds the career record with seven.

Baylor led 35-26 at halftime, but Griner was only beginning to assert herself. She scored eight in the first half, six in the final 3:56.

"We talked about it in the locker room. We know she's capable of doing that. She does it in warmups," Florida's Stewart said of Griner. "We said that if they make a big 3 or she dunks, we have to get the ball in and out quickly. It didn't affect us, I don't think.

"It's a great play — most women can't do that."

GA. TECH 76, G'TOWN 64: Freshman Sydney Wallace continued her scoring tear with 23 points, and the fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets (26-8) claimed their first berth in the region semifinals by beating the fifth-seeded Hoyas (23-9) in Chapel Hill, N.C. Georgia Tech shot 50 percent and never let Georgetown get closer than eight in the second half.

KANSAS 70, DELAWARE 64: Angel Goodrich scored 27 to rally the 11th-seeded Jayhawks (21-12) in Little Rock, Ark., and move them into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. The nation's leading scorer, Elena Delle Donne, had 34 points for the third-seeded Blue Hens (31-2), who had their 21-game winning streak snapped.

Fresno Region

DUKE 96, VANDY 80: Haley Peters' career-high 25 points led five Blue Devils in double figures, and second-seeded Duke (26-5) shot a season-best 65.6 percent (42-of-64) to rout the seventh-seeded Commodores (23-10) in Nashville, Tenn., and reach its 14th Sweet 16 in 15 seasons.

ST. JOHN'S 74, OKLAHOMA 70: Eugeneia McPherson scored 21 and Shenneika Smith 18 for the third-seeded Red Storm (24-9), who held off a second-half charge by the sixth-seeded Sooners (21-13) in Norman, Okla., and reached the region semifinals for the first time in school history.

Kingston Region

PENN ST. 90, LSU 80: Maggie Lucas scored 30 to lead the fourth-seeded Lions (26-6) over the fifth-seeded Tigers (23-11) in Baton Rouge, La., and into the third round for the first time under fifth-year coach Coquese Washington. LaSondra Barrett's nine made free throws made her LSU's all-time leader with 497, surpassing Sylvia Fowles' 494.

Raleigh Region

NOTRE DAME 73, CAL 62: Natalie Novosel scored 28 and hit 18 of 20 free throws as the Irish (32-2) pulled away in the second half from the eighth-seeded Golden Bears (25-10) in South Bend, Ind. Top seed Notre Dame started the second half with a 10-2 run and came up with five early steals.

ST. BONAVENTURE 66, MARIST 63: Jessica Jenkins scored 22 and Doris Ortega had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the fifth-seeded Bonnies (31-3) in Tallahassee. Leanne Ockenden missed a desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer for the 13th-seeded Eagles (26-8), the lowest seed to reach the second round.

Griner dunks as Baylor stops UF 03/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 1:20am]
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