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

forget.

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

game.”

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

just phenomenal.”

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

Oklahoma City.

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

the cheers.

”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

Griner.

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

finale.

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

ended.

”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. `’