2-1, 1-1 Away

Freshman Griner disrupts No. 17 Cal's offense in No. 9 Baylor's rout

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Brittney Griner knows the more shots she blocks the more offensive chances Baylor (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) gets, which means more potential dunk opportunities.

She had her chance to dunk in the waning minutes Sunday and missed again. It didn't matter much.

Baylor's 6-foot-8 freshman sensation did enough work to alter shots on the defensive end in the Lady Bears' 69-49 rout of No. 17 California, a highly anticipated matchup pitting two of the country's top young teams.

"I like the blocked shots a little bit more because it gives my team another possession and gets the offense going, which leads to the dunk," Griner said.

Griner had 15 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots, missing a right-handed dunk along the baseline off a behind-the-back pass from Melissa Jones with 2:08 remaining.

"I should have went up with two hands. I went up with one and it rolled off the rim," Griner said. "I was hoping to go back up for a second try and got tied up."

Shanay Washington scored 18 points to go with four assists, and Baylor used a big run to start the second half and pull away from cold-shooting Cal. Griner, who is trying to become the seventh woman to dunk in a college game, scored four of her points during a 12-2 spurt to open the final 20 minutes.

Jones had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for Baylor (2-1), which finally came to Berkeley 11 months after the teams were scheduled to play at Haas Pavilion. Baylor couldn't make it to the Bay Area for its game last Dec. 22 because of a severe winter storm in the Northwest and the Lady Bears were stuck in Portland after playing at Oregon.

Alexis Gray-Lawson led Cal with 12 points and 11 rebounds for her third career double-double. DeNesha Stallworth scored 15 and grabbed six boards as the Golden Bears (2-1) struggled offensively for the second straight game. They went 3 for 17 from 3-point range after missing all seven of their attempts and shooting 36.5 percent overall in a hard-fought 68-65 victory over Saint Mary's last Tuesday.

Cal shot 27.1 percent Sunday, including 24.1 percent in the first half -- going 1-for-8 from long range and scoring only four points over the last 10:43 and then coming out sluggish in the second.

Griner would become the first collegiate female to dunk since Tennessee's Candace Parker on Feb. 3, 2008, against Kentucky -- the seventh career dunk for the current Los Angeles Sparks star. Lisa Leslie has dunked twice in WNBA games.

"People are so attracted to her height and the big presence she brings on the court, it opens up others," Jones said. "When it does happen and she does connect, it gets the crowd riled up and gets our team riled up."

Griner also missed her lone dunk attempt in a 100-55 victory over Tennessee Tech last Tuesday night. She threw down a right-handed dunk in an exhibition game earlier this month and coach Kim Mulkey ran a set play for Griner to make it happen.

"I'd love to do it some more. They come," Griner said.

Cal tried everything against Griner: a 2-3 zone to start with two post players collapsing on her at all times, then a trapping press followed by a 1-3-1 zone before switching to man-to-man.

"She's a big factor," Stallworth said. "She has an 88-inch wing span and can block shots."

Baylor made 5 of 8 shots to start the game and take an 11-4 lead, but Griner missed her first four shots before scoring a layin 6:08 before halftime.

"I don't know that I've ever coached a kid who's had so much attention thrown at her defensively as Brittney Griner," Mulkey said. "You work your way through it, and she does."

Baylor held Cal -- debuting new dark uniforms at home -- scoreless for nearly six minutes late in the first half and went on a 12-4 run to take a 29-21 lead at the break.

Cal will have to find a way to get on track offensively.

"I'm most disappointed on the offensive end," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said. "The shooting percentage is bad but no shots are coming out of the flow of the offense."

Baylor has won all three regular-season games between the teams -- last on Nov. 25, 2007, in Waco, Texas -- with Cal capturing an 82-72 win on March 26, 1981, in the first round of the WNIT.

The Golden Bears played without freshman forward Brenna Heater, who is nursing a stress fracture in her left foot. Rama N'diaye, Cal's tallest player at 6-5, is still recovering from an arthroscopic cleanup procedure on her troublesome right knee before the season. N'diaye missed much of last season following reconstructive surgery on the same knee after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament during Cal's 2008 first-round NCAA tournament victory against San Diego.