Florida 76

(19-11, 8-6 SEC)

Baylor 91

(26-8, 10-6 Big 12)

    9:00 PM ET, March 22, 2004

    The Pit, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    1 2 T
    FLA 34 4276
    BAY 47 4491

    Top Performers

    Florida: B. Mosby 17 Pts, 1 Reb

    Baylor: S. Young-Malcolm 24 Pts, 2 Reb

    Baylor makes history with trip to Sweet 16

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Baylor needed a moment like this in what's been a very dark year for the Waco school.

    The Baylor women beat Florida 91-76 Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in school history.

    "The university needed this more than the program needed this," said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson. "You all know what's happened over the past year, I don't need to rehash it."

    Baylor and its athletic department have been ravaged by tragedy and scandal.

    Last summer, Baylor men's basketball player Patrick Dennehy was found shot to death. One of his teammates, Carlton Dotson, has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

    The disappearance of Dennehy, whose body was found on July 25 near a gravel pit southeast of Waco, prompted an internal inquiry that revealed numerous serious NCAA violations. They included revelations that failed drug tests were suppressed and coach Dave Bliss had paid players' tuition.

    Bliss resigned in August and the school is now on NCAA probation and facing other sanctions because of the violations.

    "I asked this team to be the shining light of our athletic department this winter and they did that," Mulkey-Robertson said.

    Baylor's two wins in the Midwest Regional here provided a respite from the school's nine months of agony and not even the fact the mighty Tennessee Lady Vols are their next opponent could temper the Bears' tears of joy.

    "I just stopped crying," said guard Jessika Stratton, who just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine assists.

    Stratton was among five Baylor players who scored in double figures. They were led by sophomore Sophia Young, who scored 17 of her 23 points in the first half.

    Fourth-seeded Baylor (26-8) will meet top-seeded Tennessee in the Midwest Regional in Norman, Okla., next week. The Lady Vols beat DePaul 79-59 to advance to the round of 16 for the 23rd consecutive year.

    With Florida's leading scorer and rebounder, Vanessa Hayden, on the bench for the last 14{ minutes of the first half with two fouls, Baylor used a 16-2 run to take a 46-32 lead at halftime.

    Hayden, the SEC's defensive player of the year, could only watch as Young, who also had 11 rebounds, dominated inside. Several times in the opening half Young hit layups against Hayden's replacement, sophomore Dalila Eshe.

    "Without that big force inside, defensively we suffered," said Florida coach Carolyn Peck. "Young and (Dionne) Brown did a good job of positioning themselves inside."

    Young scored eight points in the 16-2 spurt. Florida's Tashia Morehead ended the run with a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in the half, her first field goal against Baylor this season. She went 0-for-15 against the Bears in a 71-54 loss at Gainesville in December and missed her first six shots Monday.

    Fifth-seeded Florida (19-11) rallied once Hayden returned in the second half. The Gators got within five points twice, the last at 67-62 with 10:46 left on two free throws by Hayden.

    The 6-foot-4 Hayden scored 10 of her 15 points in the first nine minutes of the second half and had four blocks. Bernice Mosby led the Gators with 16 points, and Danielle Santos had 13.

    But even with Hayden back, Baylor's offense produced points and a fatigued Florida bunch ran out of time. With Hayden and Morehead on the bench for a quick breather and Baylor up 69-62, freshman Emily Niemann and Brown hit back-to-back layups.

    "After expending so much energy to get back into it, fatigue became a factor and they needed a blow," said Peck.

    Another block by Hayden set up her layup at the other end to get Florida to 73-65 with 6:53 left, but moments later Hayden fouled out, picking up two fouls in a seven-second span.

    Baylor got a huge game from freshmen reserves Monique Jones and Niemann. Jones hit five of six shots for 13 points. Niemann scored 16, including four 3-pointers. Two of them came back-to-back after Florida cut the Bears' lead to nine points early in the second half.

    Brown, playing in place of an injured Steffanie Blackmon, had 14 points and seven rebounds. Blackmon, the Bears' second-leading scorer, injured her left knee in the Big 12 tournament.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 76 91
    FG Made-Attempted 24-50 (.480) 31-54 (.574)
    3P Made-Attempted 9-15 (.600) 7-12 (.583)
    FT Made-Attempted 21-29 (.724) 22-26 (.846)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 11 (0/0) 12 (0/0)

    Game Leaders

    PointsB. Mosby 17S. Young-Malcolm 24
    ReboundsV. Hayden 4D. Brown 7


    » Mar 22, 2004 @BAY 91, FLA 76Recap | Box Score