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WINTER PARK, Fla. (AP) — Baylor went from having to deal with first-half turnover problems Friday night against No. 19 Syracuse to a slow-shooting start against No. 18 Michigan State on Saturday.
Once again, the No. 9 Bears found a way to overcome the obstacles, this time rallying from a 15-point deficit to beat the Spartans 84-65 in the Florida Sunshine Classic at Rollins College.
Imani Wright scored all of her 18 points in the second half to spark a dominant second-half performance that saw the Bears (10-1) outscore the Spartans (7-3) 51-19.
"I've never been a part of game where we were down 13 (46-33) at half and turn around and win by (almost) 20," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "It shows you that the problems we have are fixable. In these kind of situations, you have to have heart and effort and I know have that in the locker room."
The Spartans shot 56.7 percent (17 of 30) from the field to take a 46-33 halftime lead behind 13 points from Jasmine Lumpkin and 12 from Tori Jankoska.
Baylor came out aggressive from the start in the second half, employing a full-court press and a half-court trap to regain control of the tempo after shooting just 12 of 35 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
"We had to do something. They were killing us," Mulkey said. "You can't wait to get back in the game; you have to play with a sense of urgency."
Baylor used a 12-0 run to take a 50-48 lead on Johnson's three-point play with 12:39 remaining. After the Spartans tied it, Wright scored 11 points during a 25-6 run that gave the Bears a 75-56 lead with 6:22 left.
With Michigan State settled in a zone, Wright was wide open from long range and capitalized — going 4 of 5 on 3-pointers in the second half.
"I'm glad my teammates had confidence in me and got me the ball," Wright said.
Niya Johnson added 15 points and 12 assists, and Nina Davis had 15 points and nine rebounds. Sune Agbuke added 12 points, and Khadijiah Cage had 10 points.
Lumpkin led the Spartans with 16 points, followed by Jankoska with 15.
Michigan State took its biggest lead at 46-31 on a Lumpkin free throw with 51 second to play in the opening half, but saw its lead fade quickly at the outset of the second period.
"We stopped scoring," said Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant, whose team was just 7-24 from the field (29.2 percent) in the second half. "We took bad shots at transition."
Wright matched her season high for points. The sophomore also had 18 points against Oral Roberts in the season opener Nov. 14.
Baylor and Michigan State met in the 2005 NCAA championship game, with the Bears winning 84-62. The football teams will meet in the Cotton Bowl.
80 IS ENOUGH
Baylor is 203-6 in the Mulkey era when it scores 80 points or more.'
Baylor has two players with Florida connection: Johnson prepped at Gainesville's P.K. Yonge HS while redshirt sophomore Alexis Prince is from Orlando and played at Edgewater HS.
Michigan State plays No. 19 Syracuse on Sunday.
Baylor hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 29.
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