Jan. 28, 2010

WACO, Texas (AP) - Melissa Jones provided No. 14 Baylor a much-needed boost in her return, scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds in a 61-53 victory over No. 8 Texas A&M on Wednesday night.

The Lady Bears (15-4, 2-3 Big 12) had fallen out of the Top 10 without Jones, losing three of the four games their junior guard missed because of a right leg injury described as a precursor to a stress fracture. Though Jones still appeared a bit gimpy at times, she was driving to the basket and diving to the floor after loose balls.

Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 freshman sensation, added 20 points and Kelli Griffin 13 for Baylor.

Tyra White had 19 points for Texas A&M (15-3, 3-2), which was held 28 points below its season average.

Baylor made 10-of-10 free throws in the final minute, including six by Griffin and two by Jones to counter a pair of 3-pointers by Texas A&M that got the Aggies within 55-50.

Jones didn't start, but the crowd at the Ferrell Center erupted in cheers when she got off the bench and went to the scorer's table less than a minute into the game.

On Baylor's next possession, Jones tied the game at 2-all--and the Lady Bears never trailed again--when she passed up a 3-pointer and stepped up for a short baseline jumper on her first shot since Jan. 2. Then she forced a turnover by White, who traveled trying to get away from Jones, and that set up a go-ahead free throw by Griffin.

When Jones was knocked to the ground after driving for a layup early in the second half, she was on her back on the floor and pumping her fists in celebration.

A few minutes later after a scramble for the ball under the A&M basket that left players on the floor, Jones even mopped up the floor. Jones took a sweeper from the ballboy under the basket and used it to dry the floor.

Jones, the emotional fireplug for the Lady Bears, and senior forward Morghan Medlock are the only Baylor players who have been in the Lady Bears program more than two years. Medlock had 10 rebounds.

Baylor peaked at No. 5 in the AP poll the first week of January, the last poll before Jones missed her first game. The Lady Bears slipped from 10th to 14th after a surprising loss at Missouri last week.

After Jones had a steal that got Baylor the ball back with about 11 minutes left in the first half, she was fouled and knocked to the ground while driving the lane. She made the first free throw to make it 11-6.

There was then a lengthy delay while officials resolved a problem with the scorekeeper concerning A&M's roster that resulted in a technical foul. Frustrated Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was twirling her fingers as to hurry everything up and when Jones finally got to shoot free throws, she made both of them for a 17-6 lead.

White scored six points in a 22-second span for Texas A&M. She hit a 3-pointer and, following a Baylor miss, had a breakaway layup and a free throw to make it 17-12. But the Aggies never got closer than that.

Baylor had a three-on-one break after another steal by Jones. Shanay Washington drove, dished off to the left to Jones, who then passed the ball to Kelli Griffin for an easy layup.

Jones had 10 points and five rebounds by halftime, when Baylor led 30-18.