No. 1 Baylor 85, No. 25 Florida St. 47
Brittney Griner certainly knows how to provide a farewell to
remember – and an embrace Baylor coach Kim Mulkey will likely never
There were three impressive dunks on a night Griner almost could
have had more in her final home game.
”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
Griner had 33 points and a career-high 22 rebounds, becoming the
first woman to make three dunks in a game, as the defending
national champion Lady Bears rolled past Florida State 85-47
Tuesday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
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 6-foot-8 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.
”It’s always exciting to see when Brittney dunks. I always get
excited. We always get excited,” junior point guard Odyssey Sims
said. ”Everyone gets pumped. It’s nothing we’ve never seen. She’s
Brooklyn Pope had 12 points for Baylor, which has won a
nation’s-best 57 games in a row at home. Sims had 11 points and
Kimetria Hayden 10.
The Lady Bears (34-1) are in the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth
year in a row. They play Louisville (26-8) on Sunday night in
Griner’s opening slam came on a break after a Florida State
basket. 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 the
partisan crowd of 9,652 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, and went back
up with a reverse slam.
During a timeout less than a half-minute later, Griner 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 her 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
”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
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.
When the game was over, Griner again held both arms in the air.
She took a couple of laps around the arena floor, with Baylor
cheerleaders following her, then jumped onto the back of Shanay
Washington for a piggy-back ride before then returning the favor to
her close friend and former teammate whose career ended early
because of multiple knee injuries.
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
The Lady Bears have won every home game the past three seasons –
since Sims arrived and when transfers Destiny Williams and Pope,
the other seniors, started playing.
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.
”Certainly, it’s not an easy task to come into this environment
and ask your kids to be able to block it all out,” Seminoles coach
Sue Semrau said.
As for Semrau’s impression of Griner: ”She is better in person.
You’ve got to credit her development and growth.”
The first one-handed slam for Griner came late in the first half
of a game that got lopsided in a hurry. The Lady Bears scored the
game’s first 11 points, even without a field goal from Griner in
that opening 3 1/2-minute onslaught.
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 six in NCAA tournament games the last two
seasons, and 11 overall as a senior.
Griner relished her few minutes on the court after the game
”Happy for the win. How the game went. Happy just seeing the
crowd. They’ve been great since I’ve stepped on the court,” Griner
said. ”They’ve always come out to support us. Seeing the crowd
pack the Ferrell out, stand up and cheer for all the seniors. It
was just a great feeling. I’m definitely going to miss it. `’