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Baylor edges UConn behind Griner's big second half

By The Sports Network
February 19, 2013 - 2:03am

Hartford, CT (Sports Network) - Brittney Griner scored 21 of her 25 points in the second half, as No. 1 Baylor escaped XL Center with a 76-70 comeback win over No. 3 Connecticut in one of the marquee matchups in women's college basketball this season.

The Lady Bears (25-1) trailed by 11 early on, but chipped away at the deficit and rode the momentum provided by Griner, who also grabbed nine rebounds and became the eighth player in NCAA Division I history to reach 3,000 career points.

"I wanted to come out in the second half a little bit more aggressive than I did in the first so I could do something to help out," Griner said.

Brooklyn Pope was a spark off the bench with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Kimetria Hayden added 11 points in Baylor's 23rd straight victory.

The Huskies (24-2) were led by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' 26 points and 15 boards, but it wasn't enough to earn their second win over a No. 1 team this season.

Baylor improved to 4-1 vs. top-10 opponents this season on the strength of 61 percent shooting in the second half.

"Everything we did right in the first half, we didn't do right in the second half," UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said.

Griner scored off an offensive rebound to give the visitors a 67-61 lead with five minutes remaining. Mosqueda-Lewis answered with consecutive jumpers and had a chance to put UConn in front but was short on a rushed 3-point try.

A baseline jumper by Griner made it a 69-65 game, and her two free throws -- the second of which being her 3,000th career point -- provided the visitors with a 73-67 advantage with 1:05 to go.

Pope's steal and coast-to-coast layup on the ensuing possession sealed the outcome.

The shots were falling for UConn early, most evident by Bria Hartley banking in a 3-pointer four minutes in, and the Huskies, who beat then-No. 1 Stanford in December, raced out to a 16-5 lead.

The Lady Bears were tight in the first half, shooting just 27 percent from the field, but they forced 11 turnovers and used a late 8-0 run to close the gap, which was 29-26 at the break.

Buckets by Hayden and Griner out of the break gave Baylor its first lead, though Griner was called for a flagrant foul a little later after pulling Stefanie Dolson down from behind.

Dolson's two free throws gave the Huskies a 41-34 lead with 15:46 on the clock, but a quick 8-0 run saw Baylor jumped back in front. There were eight more lead changes over the next four minutes, the last coming when Odyssey Sims' 3-pointer gave the Lady Bears a 52-50 lead near the midway point.

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