UF women to face juggernaut Baylor

Florida's Azania Stewart (13) celebrates with teammates Sunday, March 18, during the second half of a first-round NCAA women's college tournament basketball game in Bowling Green, Ohio. (The Associated Press)

Published: Monday, March 19, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Top overall seed Baylor is looking to do something no other women's basketball team has done.


Women's NCAA tournament

Who: Baylor (35-0) vs. Florida (20-12)
When: 7:05 tonight
Where: At Stroh Center, Bowling Green, Ohio
Radio: 99.5

If the Bears (35-0) win the national title, they'll do it with a 40-0 record — a mark no NCAA team has achieved.

The next team standing in the Bears' way? The ninth-seeded Florida Gators (20-12) in the second round of the Des Moines Regional tonight.

“Florida is very good, Florida is very athletic, Florida is very physical,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “When you can come to an environment and basically you're playing a road game — I didn't see a lot of colors in that gym other than red — that tells you how good Florida is.”

Baylor overwhelmed 16th-seeded UC Santa Barbara 81-40 in the NCAA tournament first round Sunday, while UF eliminated Ohio State, 70-65. Baylor All-American Brittney Griner spent most of the second half watching reserves play extended minutes. Griner scored 14 points in only 22 minutes.

Florida players know the task they face, but don't appear concerned.

“Honestly, since I've been here, we have been the underdog,” UF sophomore guard Jaterra Bonds said. “I feel like no one respects us, so we have to go out there and take the respect.”

Gators coach Amanda Butler said playing in the SEC has helped her team.

“I think that they have a lot of pride in themselves and a lot of pride in their university,” Butler said. “They take great pride in being Gators and if someone overlooks us and that's a little extra fuel for our kids, then great.”

Quick on the perimeter and relentless on the boards, the Gators were a step ahead of eighth-seeded Ohio State from the very start Sunday. Florida scored the game's first nine points and led the entire way.

Jennifer George had 16 points and six rebounds and Lanita Bartley added 15 points to lead Florida to a win in front of a crowd packed with fans of the in-state Buckeyes.

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