March 23, 2009
Box Score |
AP Photo Gallery |
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Leon Barmore turned to sophomore Melissa Jones when second-seeded Baylor went to overtime against Texas-San Antonio.
Jones finished with a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds and scored eight of Baylor's 18 overtime points in the Bears' 87-82 victory Sunday night.
"M.J. came through for us," said Barmore, who was sitting in for a hospitalized Kim Mulkey. "I thought she was huge for us the whole game especially at the end."
Mulkey was hospitalized earlier in the day after a reaction to medication she was taking following removal of a kidney stone Friday in Waco.
Barmore, who Mulkey persuaded to come out of retirement to join her as an assistant this season, gave credited the Baylor players for dealing with the loss of scoring leader Danielle Wilson to a season-ending knee injury in late February.
"Before the injury, it was a Final Four team, and now every win they get, to me, is just a bonus for them because we're struggling now with who to play and when to play them," Barmore said. "But we could have easily lost this game."
Jessica Morrow and Jones each hit two free throws in the final 23 seconds of overtime.
Amber Gregg scored 23 points for UTSA (24-9), which was playing in its second NCAA tournament.
The Roadrunners were bidding to become the first No. 15 seed ever to win a game in the NCAA tournament. The No. 2 seeds had won every matchup by at least five points since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994.
"It was a tough game, and we fought hard and we knew we were going against a tough Baylor team," UTSA coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. "Our kids hung in there and they were physical."
Jordan Stark, who along with Southland Conference player of the year Monica Gibbs finished with 16 points, pushed the game into overtime when she hit two free throws with about 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Roadrunners led only briefly - 71-69 - in the extra period.
The Bears (28-5) scored on four of five possessions early in overtime, including back-to-back baskets by Jones - both in less than a minute - to give the Bears a 77-72 lead.
Morrow fouled Stark on a 3-point attempt and the UTSA player hit all three free throws to cut the deficit to 77-75.
Gregg missed a 3 and Gibbs missed a basket. Jones was fouled getting the defensive rebound and hit two free throws with 42 seconds remaining to give Baylor a 82-75 lead.
But Gregg hit a 3 with 35 seconds remaining to pull to 82-78 and Jhasmin Player converted on the front end of a one-and-one to make it 83-78. But Gibbs wasn't done, driving for a layup to pull UTSA to 83-80.
Morrow got her two free throws for a 85-80 lead before Gregg missed from beyond the arc with 16 seconds remaining.
Jones' two free throws with 9 seconds remaining made it 87-80 and Andrea Garcia hit a basket with 2 seconds left and UTSA ran out of time.
The Roadrunners used a 15-3 run to open the second half and go up 46-39 with more than 16 minutes remaining. Baylor continued to play from behind until Kelli Griffin hit a basket with 9:24 left to put the Bears up 55-54.
Baylor seemed flat for much of the game and couldn't find its offensive rhythm. At one point, Morrow held her arms out with palms up, appearing not to know what she and her teammates were trying to accomplish on offense.
Baylor led 38-31 at halftime.
It was the Roadrunners' second straight loss in an NCAA first-round game and the second straight against the Big 12 tournament winner. Last year, UTSA lost to Texas A&M.
"We had that experience last year, and having that experience we were a lot more focused and knew what it was all about," said Rippetoe-Blair, who wished Mulkey well in her recovery.
Barmore, who had not talked to Mulkey since she went to the hospital, said he spoke to two doctors who flew in from Waco to look after her.
Mulkey played for and coached with Barmore at Louisiana Tech before coming to Baylor in 2000.
"They've assured me that she will be OK," he said. "I'm going to get her back before Tuesday somehow."