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By Parmida Schahhosseini
It was a slam session as senior center Brittney Griner recorded three dunks Tuesday night. President George W. Bush couldn’t help but smile as No. 1 Baylor defeated No. 8 Florida State 85-47 at the Ferrell Center.
The Lady Bears are now 34-1 on the season. This win brings Baylor’s home record to a perfect 17-0. Baylor will advance to the Sweet Sixteen to play No. 5 Louisville on Sunday in Oklahoma City.
“Tonight felt like senior night,” Griner said. “Tonight was better, the three dunks. Just going out the way we did and not everyone is lucky and we were and we took advantage.”
In addition to her three dunks, Griner, who had a double-double by halftime, finished the game with 33 points, 22 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
Senior forward Brooklyn Pope added 12 points and six rebounds.
Junior guard Odyssey Sims added 11 points, four assists and two steals.
Florida State didn’t have an answer on defense as Baylor kept scoring, affecting their offense. The Seminoles rank sixth in the country in field-goal percentage, but Baylor’s defense held them to 26.1 percent shooting by protecting the paint and crowding passing lanes, forcing the Seminoles to take hurried shots.
“I just felt like we came out, we jumped out from the start and we didn’t let up,” Sims said. “I felt like we were shooting very well and they were shooting poorly. Give credit to our defense. [Senior guard Kimetria Hayden] and [senior guard] Jordan [Madden] had a tough assignment with the two [wing] players, and they did an outstanding job on them. It started it with those two first and everyone else followed them.”
The Lady Bears moved the ball effectively with Griner generating attention. This led to other players such as Madden wide open for layups, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Baylor could not have asked for a better start in both halves. The Lady Bears started the game with a 9-0 run and began the second half with a 10-0 run, leaving Florida State, the ninth highest scoring team in the nation, in a pretty big hole.
Griner protected the paint, forcing the opponent to second-guess its every move before passing the ball, making the Seminoles less aggressive on offense.
Baylor’s aggressive defense took advantage and began to create turnovers.
“Guys, our defense was special,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Florida State scores a lot of points. If you look at their stats, they are averaging 76 points per game and I challenged our girls. Your defense needs to be better than their offense. I know that sounds simple, but you really need to say you know what we’re not letting you score 76 points, and the defense and the entire game was special.”
With a comfortable lead, Baylor began making uncharacteristic mistakes leading to six easy points for the Seminoles.
Griner had a turnover following the 6-0 run, but blocked a shot toward Madden as Madden passed the ball back to her for a basket. However, the bad passes continued and Mulkey settled the team down in an effort to avoid future mistakes. Baylor regrouped, and Griner’s electric dunks, one of which included a one-handed dunk, gave all the momentum back to Baylor. Despite second half adjustments, the Seminoles couldn’t keep up with Baylor.