Jan. 23, 2010
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)--Instead of fearing Brittney Griner, Missouri went right at her.
Jessra Johnson scored 19 points to lead Missouri to its first Big 12 win of the season with a 70-62 victory over Griner and No. 10 Baylor on Saturday.
Despite Griner's 6-inch height advantage, Missouri was able to outscore Baylor (14-4, 1-3) 28-24 in the paint on their way to the victory.
"Obviously she creates a huge presence out there," Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. "We really worked on post play and really attacking."
Griner played just 24 minutes after two quick fouls sent the emerging superstar to the bench for the final 15:37 of the first half. She finished with 12 points and six rebounds, well below her averages of 18.9 and 9.1 respectively.
Missouri (11-7, 1-4) got strong, physical play in the post from Johnson, Shakara Jones, Kendra Frazier and Christine Flores, who added 15 points.
"I felt like with the rotation with Jessra, Shakara and Christine, as well as Kendra at times, we were really able to do some things," Stein said. "We kept her as far away from the basket as possible, trapped her when we needed to, beat her down the floor and even taking it to her on the offensive end."
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was impressed by Missouri's physicality with Griner as well.
"I'm never surprised at any physical play in this league," Mulkey said. "I think maybe she got frustrated."
The Tigers led 31-30 at halftime despite an 11-0 Baylor run that opened the game. Junior guard Jasmyn Otote provided a first-half spark, hit her first four 3-pointers while Amanda Hanneman chipped in with two 3s of her own.
The three-point shot had been lacking for Missouri of late, especially in a 61-60 loss Wednesday to No. 13 Oklahoma, when the Tigers shot an abysmal 2-of-22 from behind the arc.
"After the OU game, we really got out there and worked," Otote said. "It really felt great today."
Otote's 12 points were a career high, as well as the four three-pointers.
It was a huge win for Missouri after recent tough losses had set them back to match their worst start in the Big 12 in Stein's 12-year tenure. Baylor had also beaten Missouri in nine of the last 10 meetings between the schools, with an average margin of victory of over 16 points.
"It feels good to get one," Stein said. "There's not enough words to describe it."
Meanwhile, the Bears find themselves having lost three of four regular season games for the first time since February of 2003 despite Griner's recent strong play.
"Right now we're searching for guards," Mulkey said. "That's a horrible feeling to have to search."