December 19, 2011 in Sports

Top-ranked Baylor women rally to beat No. 2 UConn

Stephen Hawkins Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Baylor center Brittney Griner scored 25 points with nine rebounds and nine blocked shots.
(Full-size photo)

WACO, Texas – Brittney Griner can finally forget about those missed free throws in Baylor’s one-point loss at Connecticut in another 1-2 matchup.

This time, Griner was flawless from the line and scored 12 of her 25 points in the closing run that pushed the top-ranked Lady Bears past No. 2 UConn 66-61 on Sunday night.

“That’s the first thing I looked at,” Griner said, holding the stat sheet that showed she made all seven free throws – six in that game-ending 27-11 spurt. “I just knew I had to knock them down, stayed calm and did everything I needed to do.”

The Huskies may have a hard time getting over the thought of Griner, Baylor’s 6-foot-8 junior All-America pick, making shots and swatting others away.

Griner also had nine rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Lady Bears (11-0), who overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half and won their second No. 1 vs. No. 2 game this season.

Baylor also avenged that loss at Connecticut early last season when the rankings were reversed and Griner missed eight free throws.

“The obvious answer is she’s just a lot bigger than any kid that she’s going to be playing against,” said UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who coached Griner on the U.S. national women’s basketball team this past offseason.

“She’s developed a little bit of an aggressiveness and a few more ways to score than she’s had in the past and that’s made it really difficult to defend her.”

Odyssey Sims had 23 points for the Lady Bears, whose 29-game home winning streak includes a 94-81 win over then-No. 2 Notre Dame in November.

Bria Hartley led Connecticut (9-1) with 25 points, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 15.

It was the most anticipated home game ever for the Lady Bears, the first time a men’s or women’s game sold out in advance at the Ferrell Center. The record crowd of 10,627 included Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, who flashed the pose and got a huge ovation when he was shown on the video screen.

Connecticut was 13-2 in previous games matching 1 vs. 2, including eight wins in a row. Their previous was the 65-64 victory over Baylor last season.

“I think (our players) were very mature in the locker room at halftime, very focused,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “They understood, you’re not just playing the current UConn team, you’re playing a very proud tradition.”

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