No. 1 Baylor 85, No. 25 Florida St. 47

Florida State players can always say they got to meet a former

president and see Brittney Griner dunk three times.

There really wasn’t much else they will want to remember about

their second-round game in the NCAA tournament.

Griner, Baylor’s 6-foot-8 senior standout, had three dunks in

her final home game while scoring 33 points with a career-high 22

rebounds as the defending national champion Lady Bears beat the

Seminoles 85-47 on Tuesday night.

Before Griner even had her first field goal, the Lady Bears

(34-1) scored the game’s first 11 points before their partisan

crowd of 9,652 fans.

”Certainly, it’s not an easy task to come into this environment

and ask your kids to be able to block it all out,” Florida State

coach Sue Semrau said.

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 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.

”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.”

Brooklyn Pope had 12 points for Baylor, which has won a

nation’s-best 57 games in a row at home. Point guard Odyssey Sims

had 11 points and Kimetria Hayden 10.

The Lady Bears 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.

”It’s a really good basketball team, and I think they’ll go

really far,” Semrau said.

Bush, whose Crawford ranch is only about 25 miles from the

Baylor campus, spent time with both teams in their respective

locker rooms right before the game.

”That’s a cool thing. Not many people get a chance to meet a

president of the United States,” Semrau said. ”It’s a great

honor.

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.

Griner’s opening slam came on a break after a basket by Florida

State. 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 crowd 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, took a step

around a defender and slammed it home.

During a timeout less than a half-minute later, Griner – the

first woman ever with three dunks in the same game – 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 the 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.

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 first one-handed slam for Griner came late in the first half

of a game that got lopsided in a hurry.

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 11 just this season.

”She is better in person,” Semrau said. ”You’ve got to credit

her development and growth.”