Huge freshman helps take out Vols

MEMPHIS — Brittney Griner has grown up a lot this season. Just ask Tennessee. The 6-foot-8 freshman had 27 points, 10 blocks and seven rebounds, leading Baylor to a 77-62 win Saturday in a semifinal of the Memphis Region.

"She was the X factor," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

The only other region final for the Bears (26-9) came in 2005, when they won it all. The Vols, who lost in the first round last season, have failed to reach the Final Four in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993-94.

Tennessee (32-3) limited Griner to 15 points, four rebounds and four blocks in a 74-65 win Nov. 15. But it couldn't do it again despite putting as many as four players on her at a time. Griner hit several shots while double-teamed or passed for an easy layup.

"You're watching a phenom out here play above the rim," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.

Griner had been tentative on offense since she was suspended for two games for punching an opponent earlier this month.

"I just knew I had to … go back to the old Brittney," she said.

Kelley Cain's jumper put Tennessee up 55-50 with 7:53 left. But Griner made consecutive layups and added a three-point play as part of a 21-1 run.

"I'm just really excited that to get to the Elite Eight, we had to go through the best," Morghan Medlock said. "And the best in this region was Tennessee."

Guard lifts Blue Devils

MEMPHIS — Jasmine Thomas tied a career high with 29 points as Duke ended San Diego State's surprising run with a 66-58 win in the Memphis Region semifinals.

The 5-foot-9 junior guard also had five rebounds, six assists and five steals.

"She's a load," said coach Beth Burns, whose 11th-seeded Aztecs (23-11) failed to become the first double-digit seed to reach the region final since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994.

"She's complete. Her vision, her ball skills, her defensive ability. She's good. She's real good."

Duke (30-5) led 35-34 at halftime then scored the first 10 of the second half.

"I just read what the defense was giving me," said Thomas, who was 10-of-19 from the field. "Joy (Cheek) set a few more screens, and they played back off me. So I took the shot that was open."

Stanford routs Georgia

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — All-American Jayne Appel had 17 points and five rebounds in just 24 minutes while playing on a tender right ankle to lead Stanford past Georgia 73-36 in a Sacramento Region semifinal.

"Our guards did well getting us the ball and dishing down low," Appel said. "They gave us point-blank shots, and it was our job to put them in."

The Cardinal (34-1) led 37-15 at halftime and held Georgia (25-9) to 12-for-59 shooting overall (4-of-22 on 3-pointers).

FAst Facts

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Baylor and Duke will meet in the region final — in the men's and women's tournament. Fourteen times since 2000, including three last season, a school has had both teams reach the region final. But according to STATS LLC, this is the first time the same two schools will meet in both games.

Huge freshman helps take out Vols 03/27/10 [Last modified: Sunday, March 28, 2010 1:29am]

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