MU women tame Baylor standout Griner

Baylor's Brittney Griner was the subject of Missouri's defensive focus.
Forward Shakara Jones spins past Baylor's freshman post Brittney Griner on Saturday at Mizzou Arena. The 70-62 victory over Baylor gave Missouri its first win in the Big 12.

The Tiger women's basketball team upset No. 10 Baylor and claimed their first conference win of the season Saturday at Mizzou Arena, 70-62.

Senior forward Jessra Johnson led the Tigers with 19 points and sophomore forward Christine Flores had 15 points.

Junior guard Jasmyn Otote had a career-high game, shooting 66 percent from the 3-point line and knocking down 4-of-6 3-point shots in the first half, which allowed the Tigers to climb back into the game after falling behind early in the first half. Otote finished with a career-high 12 points.

One of the primary goals for the Tigers during the game was shutting down 6-foot 8-inch freshman center Brittany Griner, who had come into the game as a five-time Big 12 freshman of the week. It was up to Johnson, Flores, junior forward Shakara Jones and sophomore forward Kendra Frazier to stop her on offense.

"I think we did a great job on Griner," coach Cindy Stein said. "She's a phenomenal player and very tough to guard. I thought with the rotation of Shakara, Christine, Jessra and even Kendra, I thought we were able to do some things to keep her as far away from the basket as possible. We trapped her when we needed to, took it to her on offense, and we built our confidence up."

Despite Griner's size, the Tigers forced their way back into the game on the offensive side.

"She still does a tremendous job while on defense, but our kids did a great job of getting the ball and getting another shot, even if it was blocked," Stein said.

Johnson also said one of her key goals was to figure out a way to stop Griner.

"You have to respect her size and her game," Johnson said. "I understand she's a freshman, so she's not as experienced, but she's still a basketball player, so you have to respect that."

Although she picked up two fouls early in the game and was forced to the bench for the majority of the first half, Griner was still a target on the post during the second half and finished the game with 14 points.

"We each had some foul situations," Stein said, about Griner leaving the game early. "But it helped to get our confidence up. It was a moment we knew we had to take advantage of."

But it was the play from the bench — particularly Flores and Otote — that ultimately kept the Tigers in the game and allowed them to win.

"Everyone came in and did something well for us," Stein said. "Jas was huge. Those threes in the first half really lifted us up. It got us the lead and helped us to maintain it. I really liked her confidence coming in, and I thought she did a good job on the defensive end also."

Otote said it was good to see the team was making shots, an aspect that was a key part of practices in between Wednesday's game against Oklahoma and Saturday's game against Baylor.

"It feels great," Otote said. "After the OU game we went to work on our shooting, and it's great to know it paid off."

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