From the outset Tuesday night, it was clear that Brittney Griner wanted to put on a show in her final game in the Ferrell Center — especially after learning there was a special guest in the house.
With former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, in attendance, Griner scored 33 points, pulled down 22 rebounds, and became the first woman in NCAA history to dunk three times in a game as the No. 1-seeded Baylor women’s basketball team beat Florida State, 85-47.
With this victory and the Lady Bears’ opening round win over Prairie View A&M, Baylor advanced to a fifth straight Sweet 16 (the eighth in Kim Mulkey’s 13 years at Baylor).
[LINKS: Highlights from ESPN, including Griner's 3 dunks || Photos from Baylor Photography and the AP || Griner & Mulkey reflect on the seniors' final home game || President Obama picks Baylor to win it all || Players do their best Mulkey impersonations || Jalen Rose on Brittney Griner's numbers || Griner's 15th career dunk || Baylor/Sweet 16 t-shirt available from the Baylor Bookstore]
Over the last four years, Baylor’s senior class of Griner, Nae-Nae Hayden, Jordan Madden, Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams led the Lady Bears to an astounding 72-2 record in the Ferrell Center. But their final goal still awaits; they hope to leave with back-to-back national championships — something only three other schools have ever accomplished (Southern Cal, Tennessee and UConn).
Next up for the Lady Bears: 16th-ranked Louisville on Sunday in Oklahoma City, with the winner of that game facing either Tennessee or Oklahoma Tuesday in OKC. Baylor has sold-out of its allotment of tickets for the regional, but fans may purchase seats directly from the Chesapeake Energy Arena web site. Gameday bus trips from Waco to OKC and back are also available for both games from Anthony Travel.
In Oklahoma City, Baylor fans can join the Baylor Alumni Network for send-off parties at the team hotel (the Skirvin Hilton) 90 minutes prior to each game, as well as a pep rally at the hotel from 8-9 p.m. April 1 if the women advance to the Elite Eight.
Sic ’em, Lady Bears!