BERKELEY, Calif. -- Brittney Griner's intimidating presence inside more than made up for any early game jitters she had in her NCAA tournament debut.
Griner had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead fourth-seeded Baylor to a 69-55 victory over No. 13 Fresno State in a first-round game Saturday night.Griner had a low-key night in her second game back from a two-game suspension for punching an opponent. She blocked only two shots and had none of the dunks that made her an Internet sensation as a high schooler. But she still controlled the game with her presence inside, helping Baylor (24-9) hold the Bulldogs to 34 percent shooting."So much is expected of her," coach Kim Mulkey said. "She's double and triple teamed and she's pushed and she's shoved. I have to be fair to that kid. She's a freshman. She is asked to do so much. She has no room to operate down there. I thought she did fine; first half a little bit nervous, but then I thought she did fine."Hayley Munro and Emma Andrews each scored 13 points to lead Fresno State (27-7). The Bulldogs ended the season on a two-game losing streak after winning their first 19 games in 2010. Fresno State fell to 0-3 in the NCAA tournament."We just got to go out in the summer, work hard, get stronger," Munro said. "I know I have to work on my fitness and we'll just come together as a team and work hard. Hopefully we'll get a win next year."Kelli Griffin added 14 points and 11 assists, and Melissa Jones scored 11 for the Bears. Baylor advanced to play fifth-seeded Georgetown (26-6) in Monday's second-round game in the Memphis Regional. The Hoyas beat Marist 62-42 earlier Saturday.After blocking a layup by Rosie Moult early in the second half, Griner found some rhythm on the offensive end. She made consecutive jumpers and scored on a post move as part of an 8-0 run that gave Baylor a 43-32 lead.Taja Edwards ended a nearly six-minute scoring drought for Fresno State with a basket underneath that cut the Bears' lead to nine with 11 minutes remaining.Griner converted a three-point play later in the half to build the lead up to 13, and the Bears weren't challenged down the stretch."I came into the game and had a little jitters, being the first tournament," Griner said. "It got me going knocking down some shots. It got my confidence up and kept me going."The Bulldogs rarely challenged Griner. When they did penetrate into the lane, they usually just passed the ball out just as quickly instead of trying to shoot over the 6-foot-8 center.But when those long shots weren't falling, Fresno State had little chance against the more talented Bears. The Bulldogs shot 10 for 34 from 3-point range, including a 1-for-11 night by Jaleesa Ross. They took only 27 shots from inside the arc."We had a lot of looks, but the shots didn't fall," Ross said. "I thought we had a lot of pretty wide-open looks, but we couldn't put them in today."Griner got off to a slow start, missing six of eight shots in the first half, but her teammates made sure that didn't hurt the Bears. With all the attention on Griner in the middle, Shanay Washington got loose for 10 points in the first half and gave Baylor a nine-point lead with a slashing basket in the closing seconds."We knocked down open shots," Griffin said. "When she was doubled, she kicked it out. We capitalized on it. When she draws attention like that, it opens up things on the outside for the guards. Tonight we shot the ball well from the perimeter."Moult banked in a 3-pointer for Fresno State just before the buzzer to cut Baylor's lead to 31-25 at the break.
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NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 20: Tweety Carter #45 of the Baylor Bears goes to the basket against Darius James #3 and...