Feb. 3, 2010
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Pulling her chair away from the table, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey started to stand up, then bent back down to the microphone.
"How many of y'all have seen a girl dunk in game?" Mulkey said. "First time? My god, tell your buddies what they missed, huh."
Even watching it for the fourth time this season, Griner's coach is impressed with her ability to make dunking so look easy.
Griner added to her growing dunk dossier with a one-handed slam on the way to 26 points and blocked eight shots to singlehandedly overwhelmed Kansas State defensively, lifting Baylor (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) to a 65-47 victory over the Wildcats Wednesday night.
"Everything we expected, she brought to the floor," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson.
With Griner, it always starts with the dunks.
The 6-foot-8 freshman with the 88-inch wingspan became the seventh woman ever to dunk in a game in November, when she threw one down against Jacksonsville. She joined Tennessee's Candace Parker as the only one to do it twice in the same game against Texas State last month.
Griner needed two tries to flush against Kansas State.
The first came with about 7 minutes left in the game. She missed and was quickly admonished by Mulkey, who told her to make sure to make it if she's going to try to dunk.
Griner shook her head in acknowledgment and did make sure two minutes later, grabbing an offensive rebound, drop-stepping, then throwing it down with the nonchalance basketball fans are used to seeing from the men. The crowd, including several Kansas State's men's players, let out an "ooohhh!" after it went through, proof that it's still an accomplishment no matter how easy Griner makes it seem.
"The first one, I didn't really go up as strong as I should," said Griner, who was 9 of 18 from the floor and had seven rebounds. "The second one, I knew I had for sure."
The dunk was the highlight, but Griner changed the game defensively.
She dominated inside by swatting shots and forcing Kansas State (11-10, 3-4) away from the basket to give Baylor (16-5, 3-4 Big 12) its first true road win since beating California on Nov. 22.
First the blocks. She swatted one into Baylor's bench early, another over the photographers over the baseline. One in the second half against Brittany Chambers nearly bounced back up to the rim off the floor and Griner also got Ashley Sweat without leaving her feet.
Griner broke the Big 12 single-season record for blocks in a season with 122, blowing past the Big 12 record of 119 set by Oklahoma's Courtney Paris in 36 games during the 2005-06 season. Griner also broke the Bramlage Coliseum record with her seventh block midway through the second half and had at least eight blocks for the ninth time this season.
Of course, it shouldn't be much of a surprise; Griner has more blocked shots per game than all but 11 of the 332 Division I teams.
"Her presence in there gives our perimeter players confidence if they should get beat off the dribble," Mulkey said. "Because when you go by one player for Baylor, there she stands and you have to make decisions."
More than the swats, though, she took Kansas State out of its offense. The Wildcats spent most of the night swinging the ball around the perimeter, unable and sometimes unwilling to get to ball inside against the long-armed center.
Sweat was the only one to have much success, using quick shots and fadeaways against Griner on her way to 22 points. She was the only one double figures for Kansas State, which shot 30 percent.
"As the game wore on, I think we got more and more tentative and kind of lost our personality on offense," Patterson said.
Griner made it look easy at times on offense, often shooting over the smaller Wildcats, who had no chance of blocking her shots. She scored six straight points to key a short run early in the second half, then hit a jumper and powered through for a three-point play that put the Bears 56-41 with 8 minutes left.
That was just the preamble to what everyone came to see: the dunk.
"I've never seen a female, in a live game, able to execute a one-dribble, drop-step dunk," Patterson said. "You just realize that she's a phenom with respect to bringing those elements to our game. I think it goes without saying that she's just a very special young talent."