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NCAA women's tourney: Baylor-Florida play Tuesday for berth in Sweet 16 (3-19-12) PDF Print E-mail
Written by By JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor   
Monday, 19 March 2012 16:59
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Baylor's Brittney Griner (42) speaks at a post-game press conference with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey seated next to her. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Florida faces a tough test tonight in a NCAA women’s second-round tournament game at the Stroh Center.
The Gators, 20-12 overall, face undefeated Baylor, 35-0, and 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner.
Griner is averaging 23.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. She played only 22 minutes in Baylor’s 80-41 win over UC Santa Barbara in Sunday’s second game. Florida advanced with a 70-65 win over Ohio State in the first game.
“She is actually a great athlete. For her height and her size, she moves pretty well,” Florida junior Jennifer George said of Griner. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re ready for it as post players.”
Azania Stewart will get the first call to defend Griner and George will be the next option.
“She’s very mobile for a big player,” said the 6-4 Stewart, who is a native of Wood Green, England. “To me, I’ve played in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and I’ve played overseas and against Olympians too, who are just as big and just as skilled as her.
“I’ve had experience against players like that, so I’m confident and ready. You’ve got to be aggressive. You can’t go in there timid at all,” Stewart continued. “I’ll be starting out with her. I’m not worried about it. My teammates have complete faith in me. I’m a very good defender and I pride myself on that.
“We’re going to play Florida defense; we’re not really going to change it up,” Stewart added.
Florida head coach Amanda Butler cautioned Baylor’s offense is much more than Griner.
The Lady Bears have Odyssey Sims, 14.6 points and 5.0 assists per game, at the point and Destiny Williams, 10.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, playing inside.
“There is no question they are very, very talented and special, outside of their post game,” Butler said. “There is a lot of attention paid to their post game and rightly so. But you are making a foolish mistake if you overlook their point-guard play, their size and length on the wings, and the job that Destiny does as Griner’s post helper.”
Florida counters with George, a 6-0 senior, who averages 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game; Jordan Jones, a 5-9 redshirt senior, who is averaging 11.5 ppg with 67 3-pointers; and Lanita Bartley, a 5-6 senior, who is averaging 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.
Against the Buckeyes, George had been battling Ohio State’s bigger and bulkier post players the entire game and the Buckeyes were making it tough on her. George was 6-of-16 from the field, when the Gators got the ball to her in the lane with less than a minute remaining to play and Florida holding a two-point lead.
George didn’t hesitate, went to the basket and her soft left-handed hook shot was successful, putting Florida ahead 67-63 with 45 seconds to play in the game.
“I knew we didn’t have that much time, and I knew that this basket was going to be critical, so I just wanted to make sure I got it high enough that she (OSU’s Ashley Adams) didn’t block it,” George said Monday. “They went to me and I just tried to fake in the middle and go baseline.”
The Gators have caught the attention of Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey.
“I just thought that team (Florida) played with a sense of urgency,” Mulkey said about the game with Ohio State. “And what I mean by that is they played extremely hard on both ends of the floor.
“They played with a purpose, whether they felt like they should have been seeded higher or they felt like they shouldn’t have been mentioned as one of the last four in, I don’t know.”
Williams expects to see Florida’s best effort.
“For us, we want everyone’s best shot,” Williams said. “It only helps personally to be a better team and help us with things we need to work on.
“Being No. 1 doesn’t really mean anything,” she continued. “It’s an honor and we’ll take it along the way. But we just have to go out there (and play).”
Tipoff is at 7 tonight with the winner advancing to face either Georgetown or Georgia Tech in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 09:07
 

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