Baylor's Brittney Griner shoots over Arizona State's Becca Tobin. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)
Dec. 20, 2009
LAS VEGAS (AP)--Brittney Griner is proving she's one of the best players in the country and she's only a freshman.
Griner had 27 points, 10 rebounds, and eight blocks to help sixth-ranked Baylor hold off No. 14 Arizona State 70-66 on Sunday night in the Las Vegas Hoops Classic. It was the second straight game that Griner fell just two blocks short of a triple-double. She had the first in school history early in the week in a win over Oral Roberts.
"She's amazing," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "In all my years at Baylor I haven't seen anyone with games statistically like she's had the past week."
Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne was equally impressed by the 6-foot-8 phenom.
"You already have to put her in the company of some of the other greats like Candace Parker and Maya Moore," Turner Thorne said. "She's come so far from high school so quickly."
Griner took over in the second half, scoring 18 of her points and blocking six shots. Her three-point play with 4:47 left gave Baylor (11-1) a five-point lead. The Sun Devils could get no closer than four the rest of the way.
"We didn't go a good enough job getting her the ball in the first half," Mulkey said. "She's so patient and we were able to get her going in the second half."
Kelli Griffin added 15 points for the Bears, who have 11 straight games since a season-opening loss to Tennessee.
"I was really pumped up coming to Las Vegas," Griner said. "It was really important to go into Christmas break with a win."
Becca Tobin scored 16 points and Danielle Orsillo added 14 for Arizona State (7-3), which also lost to No. 13 Texas A&M on Saturday.
"We played a couple of top teams," Tobin said. "We moved a few steps forward because of that. Now we need to go home and practice and work on the things we need to do."
With the game tied at 60 with 5:43 left, Medlock hit a layup and Griner had the three-point play. Arizona State, which had made 13 of its first 14 free throws, had chances to close the gap, but the Sun Devils started to miss from the line, failing to convert on six of their next eight.
Griffin's layup extended the advantage to 67-61 with 3:10 left. Tobin hit two free throws to make it a four-point game. On the Sun Devils next two possessions they had a shot clock violation and Orsillo missed a deep 3-pointer with 1:01 left.
"We played well for a while, but just came up a little short in the end," Turner Thorne said.
Griner's layup with 44.7 left sealed the game.
It was a game of runs as Baylor jumped out to an early 32-20 with 3:01 left in the first half, Arizona State went on a 20-5 spurt spanning the break to take a 40-37 advantage on Fulcher's jumper. Griner and Baylor responded scoring the next nine points. Griner had four of them, including a nifty layup after blocking a shot on the other end to give the Bears a 46-40 advantage.
Arizona State then had the next spurt scoring seven straight to take a 47-46 lead with 11:45 left. The teams traded baskets and leads over the next 6 minutes as Griner scored nine points on an array of post moves. Neither team could build more than a two-point lead before Tenaya Watson's jumper tied the game at 60.
Arizona State lost its opening game in the tournament Saturday night, falling to No. 13 Texas A&M 72-62. Baylor routed Gonzaga 70-49.