Griner leads No. 2 Baylor to 78-52 win over MSU
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Basketball Writer
WACO, Texas (AP) -- Brittney Griner and second-ranked Baylor quickly blocked out the tough one-point loss against the nation's best team.
"I needed to see this basketball team respond after a difficult loss," Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey said. "And they did,"
Griner scored 29 points, grabbed seven rebounds and moved within one block of the school's career record as the Lady Bears rolled to a 78-52 victory over No. 25 Michigan State on Friday night, just three nights after losing at Connecticut.
Baylor put the game out of reach with an 18-2 run midway through the first half when Griner, senior captain Melissa Jones and freshman guard Odyssey Sims combined for all the points.
"After the loss to UConn, we were definitely upset with that," Jones said. "We used that as motivation and wanted to get right back on the court."
In Tuesday night's showdown at Hartford, Conn., Baylor overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half with a 27-4 run. But the Lady Bears couldn't hold on as Connecticut, the team that beat them in the national semifinal last April, extended its winning streak to 80 games.
Back home, the Lady Bears had another lopsided victory, this one against another ranked team. Their four wins at home have come by an average of 39 points.
Griner had four blocks, pushing her 40-game career total to 248, one less than Danielle Wilson's total in 92 games over three seasons with the Lady Bears. The AP preseason All-American burst onto the national scene last season, when as a freshman the 6-foot-8 Griner set an NCAA single-season record with 223 blocks and also had four dunks.
"She's just impossible probably to contain," Spartans coach Suzy Merchant said.
Kalisha Keane had 28 points and eight rebounds to lead Michigan State (2-1), which shot 33 percent (20 of 60) overall and made only 4 of 22 3-pointers.
After the Lady Bears' fifth game in eight days, Mulkey planned a Saturday morning practice for her team. They will finally "watch film from Connecticut and learn from that game."
Baylor certainly did all right against Michigan State, when Jones had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting with two 3-pointers and Sims scored 10 points -- all by halftime, when Baylor led 47-24.
Griner started a big spurt with a free throw to make it 16-11 with 11:17 left in the first half, the first of 11 consecutive points for Baylor in a span of just over 2 minutes.
After a Michigan State turnover, Griner grabbed her own rebound to make a layup. Then Jones had a steal and passed to Sims, who was just getting up near midcourt after getting knocked down seconds earlier. Sims drove for an uncontested layup and then on the next Lady Bears possession made a 3-pointer.
"I don't really remember. I ran into a screen and I guess she stole the ball," Sims said.
Kimetria Hayden then missed a breakaway layup after she had a steal, but Jones got the rebound and made a layup while being fouled. Jones added the free throw for a 26-11 lead.
Jasmine Thomas broke the string with a basket for Michigan State, which had 11 of its 16 turnovers before halftime. But Jones then hit a 3-pointer, Sims had a breakaway layup after another Hayden steal and Griner made two free throws to cap the longer run.
Baylor trailed only once, after Lykendra Johnson made the Spartans' only 3-pointer of the first half to make it 5-4 less than 2 minutes into the game. But the Lady Bears went ahead to stay on the next possession when Hayden banked in a 3-pointer.
Michigan State had made 19 3-pointers its first two games, the most in a two-game span in program history.
Against Michigan State, Baylor played the first of seven consecutive home games in a stretch that will include visits from No. 12 Notre Dame and fourth-ranked Tennessee. The Lady Bears have won 91 of their last 100 games and are 147-19 at the Ferrell Center in Mulkey's 11 seasons.
"They're really good. They're a national championship team," Merchant said. "They hustle, they play hard, they're athletics. ... (Mulkey) has got something special there. It was fun to come down here and get a run at them."
Updated November 19, 2010