BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP)
Brittney Griner is one of a kind in college basketball, a 6-foot-8 star who has helped Baylor become a juggernaut and the top seed in the NCAA tournament.
Florida's Azania Stewart doesn't sound intimidated. In fact, she says she's faced players like Griner before.
''I've played overseas against Olympians who are just as big and just as skilled as her,'' Stewart said. ''I've had experience against players like that, so I'm confident and ready.''
The ninth-seeded Gators will have their chance to stop Griner and the Lady Bears when they meet Tuesday night in the Des Moines Regional. Florida has already shaken things up, beating Ohio State on Sunday in front of a crowd full of Buckeyes fans at Bowling Green's Stroh Center.
The Gators all but promised that their aggressive defense would catch Ohio State off guard, and that's exactly what happened. Whether it will work against Baylor is another matter.
''We want everyone's best shot,'' Baylor forward Destiny Williams said. ''It only helps us personally to be a better team and help us with the things we need to work on.''
The Lady Bears (35-0) routed 16th-seeded UC Santa Barbara 81-40 in the first round. Griner and the starters played only about half the game. Florida (20-12) led wire to wire against Ohio State, hanging on for a 70-65 win.
Florida forced some early turnovers and finished with 20 offensive rebounds. Forward Jennifer George shot 6 of 17 but made big plays down the stretch. She scored 16 points.
The Gators also made nine 3-pointers, but Baylor coach Kim Mulkey is confident her team can defend the perimeter while Griner patrols around the basket.
''The game of basketball is won in the paint in my opinion. You have to have post touches, and Brittney Griner changes that a lot with the teams that we play,'' Mulkey said. ''I don't know how many 3s you need to make to beat us but we will guard you. We'll be out there trying our best to guard you.''
Stewart, a senior who has played internationally for Britain, is 4 inches shorter than Griner. She'll have to draw on her experience and try to slow Baylor's top player.
''I played against the Russians,'' she said. ''Not any big names particularly that you would know of, but the Russians, there is a 7-footer. ... The Germans play pretty big and the Lithuanians. So, I've had experience that maybe a lot of USA players haven't had.''
UCSB tried fronting Griner with two players but that seemed to open opportunities for other Lady Bears. Baylor figures to be challenged more by the Gators.
''They crash the boards, they like to get out and run,'' Griner said.
Florida held Ohio State guard Samantha Prahalis scoreless in the second half. Now the challenge will be to contain an overpowering post player, but the Gators are used to being under the radar. Florida isn't one of the Southeastern Conference's glamour programs and isn't expected to go far in this tournament.
''Going into Ohio State there wasn't a whole lot of talk about Florida except maybe how excited we were to be in the tournament,'' Gators coach Amanda Butler said. ''We were one of the last four in, and that is the headline we might have gotten.''
There will be bigger headlines for sure if Florida can pull off a shocker against Baylor.
''Everyone was talking about Ohio State and really didn't give us any credit for what we have done,'' Stewart said. ''It was all about them. I think it's time to start talking about Florida - you know, what they have done and what they are going to do.''