OC alum Fussell tops Texas scorebook; Top team Baylor survives
Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2011 4:53 pm
By: By JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Another win, another milestone for No. 1 Baylor and Brittney Griner.
Neither of them came very easy.
Griner fought through a tough shooting night to score 27 points — reaching an even 1,000 for her career in just 51 games — to lead No. 1 Baylor to an 87-72 win over Texas on Wednesday night.
Griner was 9-for-24 from the field but 9-of-12 from the free-throw line and added 10 rebounds. The sophomore also blocked seven shots to give her 303 for her career, No. 2 all-time in the Big 12.
“I got a little frustrated,” the 6-foot-8 sophomore said of a night that saw her miss several layups and short jumpers. “I tried to get closer to the rim and just drop it in instead of shoot it.”
Griner nearly dunked as Baylor was starting to seize control in the second half, but did indeed drop in a soft shot instead.
Obion Central product Chassidy Fussell scored 25 points for Texas.
But the nation’s highest scoring team at 86 points per game shot just 39 percent on its home court and got no points from leading scorer Kathleen Nash, who came in averaging 16.
Defensively, Texas hamstrung Griner in the first half.
Posted up against Texas’ 6-4 center Ashley Gayle, one of the country’s best shot blockers, Griner missed her first six shots and 10 of 13 in the first half.
“She’s strong. She makes you work to get position,” Griner said. “It was a tough night.”
Odyssey Sims added 23 points for Baylor (15-1, 2-0) which won its 12th in a row and snapped a two-game losing streak to the Longhorns.
“They’ve had our number,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We felt like if you want to win a Big 12 championship, you have to win on the road.”
Texas is just looking for any kind of win.
After a tough road loss at Missouri and now losing at home to Baylor, the Longhorns (11-5) are off to an 0-2 start in the Big 12 for third time in coach Gail Goestenkors’ four seasons.
“I thought we could play with them. I thought we could win,” Goestenkors said.
Ashleigh Fontenette scored 11 points as Texas raced to 19-8 lead before the Lady Bears roared back with a 16-2 run to take the lead on Griner’s 3-point play. Baylor stretched the lead to nine before Texas closed to 32-30 at halftime.
Even with her struggles shooting, Griner still had 11 points in the first half and did her usual part on the defensive end with three blocks and diverted several other shots.
“Keep shooting,” Mulkey told her.
Griner didn’t miss her first shot of the second half, a 10-foot jumper, and forced Gayle to pick up her third foul and go to the bench two minutes into the period.
Griner never really find her shooting touch from up close, but had no problems from the free-throw line, making her first nine. Her putback basket, when Gayle picked up her fourth foul, put Baylor up 48-39 with 14 minutes left. Griner nearly dunked two minutes later but settled for drop-in basket.
“That hurt us,” Goestenkors said. “We didn’t have that size on Brittney and more and she just turned and scored on us a couple of times.”
The Longhorns gave Griner few easy shots, but all the attention they paid to her left Sims free to drive to the basket or pull up for open jumpers.
Texas kept the game within reach deep into the second half before Griner made a short hook over Kristen Nash and Melissa Jones’ 3-point play put the Lady Bears in firm control at 66-54.
“We withstood the storm and hung in there,” Mulkey said. “Some of those shots we were missing early starting going in there.”