Brittney Griner guarded by California's Talia Caldwell unsuccessfully attempts her only dunk of the contest.
Nov. 22, 2009
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Brittney Griner had her chance to dunk in the waning minutes and missed again. It didn't matter much.
Baylor's 6-foot-8 freshman sensation did enough work to alter shots on the defensive end in the eighth-ranked Lady Bears' 69-49 rout of No. 17 California on Sunday, a highly anticipated matchup pitting two of the country's top young teams.
Griner had 15 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots, missing a right-handed dunk along the baseline off a behind-the-back pass from Melissa Jones with 2:08 remaining. Shanay Washington scored 18 points to go with four assists, and Baylor used a big run to start the second half and pull away from cold-shooting Cal. Griner, who is trying to become the seventh woman to dunk in a college game, scored four of her points during a 12-2 spurt to open the final 20 minutes.
Jones had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for Baylor (2-1), which finally came to Berkeley 11 months after the teams were scheduled to play at Haas Pavilion. Baylor couldn't make it to the Bay Area for its game last Dec. 22 because of a severe winter storm in the Northwest and the Lady Bears were stuck in Portland after playing at Oregon.
Alexis Gray-Lawson led Cal with 12 points and 11 rebounds for her third career double-double. DeNesha Stallworth scored 15 and grabbed six boards as the Golden Bears (2-1) struggled offensively for the second straight game. They went 2 for 16 from 3-point range after missing all seven of their attempts and shooting 36.5 percent overall in a hard-fought 68-65 victory over Saint Mary's last Tuesday.
Cal shot 27.1 percent Sunday, including 24.1 percent in the first half - going 1-for-8 from long range and scoring only four points over the last 10:43 and then coming out sluggish in the second.
Griner would become the first collegiate female to dunk since Tennessee's Candace Parker on Feb. 3, 2008, against Kentucky - the seventh career dunk for the current Los Angeles Sparks star. Lisa Leslie has dunked twice in WNBA games.
Griner also missed her lone dunk attempt in a 100-55 victory over Tennessee Tech last Tuesday night. She threw down a right-handed dunk in an exhibition game earlier this month and coach Kim Mulkey ran a set play for Griner to make it happen.
Cal tried everything against Griner: a 2-3 zone to start with two post players collapsing on her at all times, then a trapping press followed by a 1-3-1 zone before switching to man-to-man. It didn't really matter.
Baylor made 5 of 8 shots to start the game and take an 11-4 lead, but Griner missed her first four shots before scoring a layin 6:08 before halftime.
Baylor held Cal - debuting new dark uniforms at home - scoreless for nearly six minutes late in the first half and went on a 12-4 run to take a 29-21 lead at the break.
Cal will have to find a way to get on track offensively.
Baylor has won all three regular-season games between the teams - last on Nov. 25, 2007, in Waco, Texas - with Cal capturing an 82-72 win on March 26, 1981, in the first round of the WNIT.
The Golden Bears played without freshman forward Brenna Heater, who is nursing a stress fracture in her left foot. Rama N'diaye, Cal's tallest player at 6-5, is still recovering from an arthroscopic cleanup procedure on her troublesome right knee before the season. N'diaye missed much of last season following reconstructive surgery on the same knee after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament during Cal's 2008 first-round NCAA tournament victory against San Diego.