March 24, 2009

 

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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -Baylor continues to thrive on adversity.

Kelli Griffin hit a floater from outside the lane on the right side with 0.5 seconds remaining to lift the second-seeded Bears past South Dakota State 60-58 on Tuesday night to advance to the regional semifinals.

Griffin scored 21 points to lead Baylor (29-5), which trailed for most of the game and rallied from 14 points down in the first half. The Bears, making their fourth trip to the round of 16, will face Louisville in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday.

Jennifer Warkenthien scored 18 points to lead the Jackrabbits (32-3), who failed on a desperate three-quarters-court pass to end the game.

Like Tuesday night, the Bears have clawed their way back in numerous games this season, including the Big 12 tournament final in which they beat Texas A&M.

"We just keep finding ways to win," said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who was hospitalized Sunday and didn't coach the Bears in their first-round game. "(Griffin) is probably the main reason we won tonight because she put us in a position to have that shot at the end of the game tonight, not so much that she made the shot at the end of the game."

Griffin was hoping to draw a foul as she raced up the court.

"I knew I could get down the court in that amount of time, I didn't know if I could get the shot off," she said. "I wasn't really looking to score as much as trying to draw a foul, but it went in for me."

The win for Baylor added another notch to the list of struggles the past month.

First they lost leading scorer Danielle Wilson to a season-ending knee injury in late February. Then Mulkey was absent from the sideline while hospitalized for a reaction to medication following removal of a kidney stone Friday and missed the Bears' tough 87-82 win in overtime against Texas-San Antonio in the first-round Sunday.

Now, Rachel Allison could be questionable. She went down with an injury to her left knee with under 5 minutes remaining but returned. She tehn injured her left ankle, which she'd injured earlier this season.

In a timeout with about 3 minutes left, Mulkey asked her team how many times they'd won this season after being down.

"I said, 'you're going to win this game,"' Mulkey said. "We persevere."

After Jessica Morrow gave Baylor its first lead of the game, 55-53, on 3-pointer from the corner with 2:57 remaining, Stacie Oistad pulled the Jackrabbits even at 55 on a layup.

Both teams failed to score on their next two possessions before Griffin hit a running layup with 40 seconds remaining to put Baylor up 57-55.

Warkenthien missed a layup but was fouled and missed the second free throw of a 1-and-1. Rachel Allison, who left the game with an injury to her left knee about 3 minutes earlier but returned, got the rebound and was fouled.

She hurt her ankle and was unable to shoot the free throws. South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston elected to have Whitney Zachariason shoot Allison's free throws. Zachariason hit only the front end of a 1-and-1 and Jackrabbits redshirt freshman Jill Young got a layup at the other end to tie it at 58 with 7 seconds left.

That's when Griffin took over. She took the inbounds pass and went the length of the court before cutting toward the lane and letting the ball fly from outside the paint.

Johnston wasn't disappointed at his team's play but that this loss - only the team's third this season - was the hardest. Statistically, both teams were nearly even.

"I was very proud of how we competed," he said. "Baylor plays exceptionally hard, and I did not think our effort at any time was less than theirs. It's hard to stop them every time. We just needed one more basket."

South Dakota State worked the ball through Warkenthien, the Summit League's player of the year, almost every possession of the second half. At one point she scored seven straight points for the Jackrabbits.

The Bears tied it at 36, on a layup by Griffin, and Baylor leveled it again at 47 and 49 but couldn't pull ahead.

Allison went down after fouling Warkenthien with 4:20 remaining with what appeared to be an injury to her left knee. That came in the midst of a 3-minute drought the Bears could ill afford to trail 53-49.