March 9, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Baylor coach Kim Mulkey calls Melissa Jones the glue of the third-ranked Lady Bears.
Jones lived up to that billing Wednesday, even though she needed to wear sunglasses to protect her damaged right eye. She had eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals, helping Baylor to a 86-51 victory over Kansas at the Big 12 tournament.
"That's the story of the game," Mulkey said. "Can you believe what you saw out of that kid today?"
Destiny Williams scored a career-high 21 points and Brittney Griner added 19 points, eight rebounds and five blocks for top-seeded Baylor (29-2), which will meet the winner of the Kansas State-Iowa State game in the semifinals.
Jones hit her head diving for a loose ball in a win Feb. 27 at Oklahoma, and had swelling around the optic nerve in her right eye that affected her vision. She played her second game since the injury and made her first 3-pointer against the Jayhawks
She says there's improvement in her eye.
"I can see that there's light," Jones said.
She proved to be the inspiration for the Lady Bears, who dominated the first half and led 43-19 at the break.
The Jayhawks (20-12) were led by Monica Engleman, who had 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
The 6-foot-8 Griner had eight points and four blocks in the first half, providing an intimidating factor in the lane that forced Kansas to mainly shoot from the perimeter.
Williams was 10 of 13 from the field, with eight rebounds and two blocks.
Kansas had a glimmer of hope early when it took a 7-5 lead on Angel Goodrich's steal and layup. But from that point on, it was all Baylor. The Lady Bears limited the Jayhawks' All-Big 12 player Carolyn Davis to six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson tried to stem Baylor's offense with a series of first-half timeouts. But nothing could stop flow of the Lady Bears' game, which featured smothering defense, up-tempo offense and tenacious rebounding.
Baylor had routed Kansas 76-37 on Jan. 19 in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks were hopeful they would be more competitive in the tournament. But it turned into another blowout as the Lady Bears went up by 27 points with 18 seconds left in the first half.
"Our intensity in the first half was amazing," Griner said. "It wasn't in spurts. It was all the way through."
The Lady Bears didn't let up in the second half. They padded their lead before Mulkey went heavily to her bench.
"It's a basketball team that's so talented," Mulkey said. "When the intensity matches their talent, it's special. I thought our defense was outstanding."
Henrickson credited the Baylor defense and Griner's ability to alter shots. Baylor had a 52-18 edge in points in the paint.
"The longer you watch her and have that opportunity to play against her, (you realize) just how much she impacts the game on the defensive end," Henrickson said. "There's not much room to score, and the lane is awfully crowded."