Griner efficient from all spots on the floor

March, 23, 2011
03/23/11
2:23
AM ET

Players who are disappointed in an aspect of their performance frequently say that it will fuel them to improve. Frankly, it doesn't always happen. But in the case of Brittney Griner and free-throw shooting, it has.

Which is not to say that Griner was terrible at the foul line as a freshman last season. She shot 68.4 percent, not bad for a rookie post player, but it was something she wanted to improve.

The sophomore center was frustrated by her 5-of-13 performance from the line in November's game against UConn, a 65-64 loss in which every one of those free-throw misses loomed large.

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Brittney Griner
Matt Strasen/US PresswireBrittney Griner was 12 of 15 at the foul line and 9 of 17 from the field for 30 points in 31 minutes Tuesday.

Griner said that wouldn't happen again. And she has backed that up, hitting 78.2 percent (229-of-293) in her second season at Baylor. That includes going 12-of-15 from the line Tuesday in the Dallas No. 1 seed Lady Bears' 82-68 victory over West Virginia in the second round.

Griner had some early foul trouble in the game, but in the end she caused a lot more trouble for West Virginia's defense. The Mountaineers had to play a physical style to have any hope of slowing Baylor, but the Lady Bears made them pay at the stripe.

Melissa Jones hit 7 of 8 free throws on the way to 13 points, and Odyssey Sims made 6 of 8 as she also scored 13. As a team, Baylor was 28 of 35 from the line (80 percent).

As a team this season, Baylor is at 73.9 percent in foul shooting, so Griner is more than doing her part to make that one of the Lady Bears' strengths. And when adding in her 54.4 percent shooting from the field this season -- she connected on 9 of 17 Tuesday -- you can see why the best hope that foes have is just trying to keep Griner from getting the ball in the first place. Because once she has it anywhere close to scoring position, she's usually going to burn you.

So denial is a good strategy … if you can pull it off. But consider the two Baylor players who are the best at feeding the ball to Griner -- Jones and Sims -- have a combined 231 assists to 119 turnovers, then you realize denying Griner is ridiculously difficult, too.

And that's why she can have nights like Tuesday's even against a very hard-working defensive team: 30 points in 31 minutes.

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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