No. 2 Baylor 83, Fla. International 36
After unfurling its 2010 NCAA Final Four banner before the game,
second-ranked Baylor quickly put the season opener out of
Brittney Griner helped the Lady Bears score the game’s first 18
points and they went on to an 83-36 victory over Florida
International on Friday night in the first of three games in three
”Absolutely, a good way to start off the season,” senior
captain Melissa Jones said. ”We were just kind of chomping at the
Griner, the AP preseason All-American who burst onto the
national scene last year as a freshman, had 19 points and 10
rebounds for her 17th career double-double. But she didn’t have a
dunk or a block – the Panthers kept shooting from outside to avoid
the 6-foot-8 Griner.
Jones, who missed 15 games last season because of a right leg
injury, had 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting. She added nine
”Our two captains, our two returning players, Melissa Jones and
Brittney Griner, set the tone for the team right from the
beginning,” coach Kim Mulkey said. ”We jumped on them.”
Baylor has three quick games at home before playing Tuesday at
top-ranked Connecticut, the defending national champion that beat
Baylor in the national semifinals last April in San Antonio.
A few minutes before the game, the lights went out in the arena.
A spotlight was pointed toward the rafters, where the latest Final
Four banner now hangs – not far from the 2005 national championship
”We just need (another) national championship, one on the other
side,” Griner said.
The ceremony gave Mulkey a chance to reflect on the success of
”Wow, we’ve come a long way in 11 years. Two Final Fours and we
won a national championship. That’s what I thought of,” Mulkey
said. ”You just think of what we’ve been able to do here. Not just
what we did last year, what we have been able to do for 11
Florida International, from the Sun Belt Conference, provided
little resistance for Baylor, which came into the game with its
highest preseason ranking ever.
The Lady Bears had a 10-0 lead by the first timeout after five
consecutive points by Griner. After the timeout, Jones hit a
3-pointer, Griner converted her second three-point play of the game
and Odyssey Sims scored to make it 18-0.
Fanni Hutlassa, a junior from Hungary, finally got the Panthers
on the board when she hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 18-6 –
the closest they got. Baylor then scored eight more points in a row
to stretch the lead to 20.
Griner had four dunks and broke the NCAA single-season record
with 223 blocks last season. She was among five freshmen on a
Baylor team that made it to the Final Four after finishing sixth in
the Big 12.
A week after the Lady Bears announced that expected starting
point guard Kelli Griffin had quit the team after 71 career starts,
including all 37 games last season, sophomore Kimetria Hayden
started in that spot. Sims, a freshman, played most of her 16
minutes at the point.
Hayden had nine points, four assists and six steals, while Sims
had eight points, two assists and a steal. Both made all four of
their field goals and had two turnovers each.
Mulkey plans ”that position by committee” until Sims is ready
to take over and Hayden can move back to her regular guard
The Lady Bears shot 57 percent (34 for 59) and had a 42-25
Hutlassa led the Panthers with nine points, on three 3-pointers.
Florida International shot only 28 percent (14 of 49).
Florida International coach Cindy Russo, beginning her 32nd
season at the school, got on the team bus only minutes after the
game and declined an opportunity to comment.
Baylor, 11-0 in home openers under Mulkey, plays Montana State
on Saturday – the tip-off is only about 15 1/2 hours after the end
of Friday night’s game.
”Noon is quick,” Mulkey said.