Lady Vols Ousted of Memphis Regional - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lady Vols Ousted of Memphis Regional

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Freshman sensation Brittney Griner has

grown up a lot this season - just ask Tennessee.

Griner scored 27 points and blocked 10 shots, leading

fourth-seeded Baylor to a 77-62 win over the top-seeded Lady Vols

on Saturday to advance to the NCAA tournament regional finals.

"She was the X factor," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt,

whose team was taken out in the first round last season.

Baylor's only other appearance in the round of eight was in

2005, the same year it won the national championship. The Lady

Bears (26-9) will face No. 2 seed Duke on Monday night.

The Lady Vols' loss spoiled the highly anticipated matchup

between Tennessee and Connecticut, which could have happened in

this year's national semifinals. The Lady Vols, who lost in the

first round last season, haven't missed out on back-to-back Final

Fours since 1993-94.

Tennessee (32-3) successfully limited the 6-foot-8 Griner in its

74-65 win over Baylor in the first game of the season but couldn't

do it again even with as many as four players on her at a time.

Griner hit several shots while double-teamed or passed to an open

Lady Bears teammate for an easy layup.

"You're watching a phenom out here play above the rim," Mulkey

said. "That's what needs to be written in every article from this

day forward, because she's such a sweet child as you can see."

Griner had been somewhat tentative on offense since she was

suspended for two games after throwing a punch against a Texas Tech

player in early March. She was back to her dominant self on both

ends of the court.

"I just knew I had to come out and play my game and go back to

the old Brittney," Griner said.

Griner's 26 blocks in the NCAA tournament ranks her second in

history. Duke's Alison Bales holds the NCAA tournament record with

30 in 2006, and Connecticut's Rebecca Lobo's 22 now ranks third.

The teams went back and forth throughout the first half and

early in the second, trading the lead 10 times and tying four

times. With both 6-foot-6 Kelley Cain and 6-foot-3 Alyssia Brewer

on the floor to guard Griner, Tennessee found some success inside

and was up 55-50 with just under eight minutes left.

The Lady Vol orange-clad crowd fell silent as Griner hit

back-to-back layups and had a three-point play as part of a 21-1

run as Tennessee's defense unraveled.

Tennessee (32-3) turned to its shooters in desperation. Though

Angie Bjorklund and Shekinna Stricklen managed to hit jumpers in

traffic and knock down a few 3s in the first half, they missed left

and right in the second half.

The Lady Vols managed to hit only 32.9 percent, only slightly

better than their season-worst 32.8 percent against Stanford, and

finished with 22 paint points. The Lady Vols allowed the Lady Bears

49.1 percent shooting - a season high for a Tennessee opponent -

and 36 paint points.

"I can't believe it. I'm just really excited that to get to the

Elite Eight we had to go through the best, and the best in this

region was Tennessee," Baylor's Morghan Medlock said.

Stricklen led Tennessee with 18 points, and Bjorklund added 12.

"I think anytime you play against a 6-8 player, it's is going

to be tough to shoot over her," Bjorklund said. "At the same

time, I thought when our posts did have the ball they did a good

job. Going against her, we just needed to give the posts more

touches."

Tennessee fell to 23-5 in regional semifinal games.

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