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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Huskies fail to deliver knock out blow

UConn coach Geno Auriemma thought that his team had about 35 minutes against top-ranked Baylor on Sunday night but as it turns out, one four-minute stretch did in the Huskies.

Connecticut was up by 11 and had silenced the largest women's basketball crowd in Baylor history. Then UConn went scoreless for a span of 4:06, missing six straight shots to allow the Lady Bears to pull within a point. Down the stretch the Baylor duo of Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims took over to lead Baylor to a 66-61 victory.

"If you come into a place like this, go on the road and play a really good team you have to be able to withstand a lot of things not going your way," Auriemma said. "I thought for the most part we did. I thought for 35 minutes there, we were good enough to win the game. But there was a five minute stretch and maybe less than that where I thought Baylor's aggressiveness and intensity level kind of took over. They made some plays offensively and we didn't make shots on the other end and kind of got out of (a rhythm). When you are on the road and allow that to happen, your chances of winning are obviously much less."

Other than a long stretch in the first half when she was flustered by UConn reserve Heather Buck, Griner played like the All-American and national player of the year candidate that she is. She had 25 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks. She was 7 of 7 from the free-throw line which was a far cry from her nightmarish effort shooting foul shots in last season's loss to UConn.

Auriemma said that he considered Sims to be the pivotal player for Baylor. Figuring that Griner would get hers, he was hoping the Huskies could limit Sims' impact. They did not. The sophomore had 23 points and four steals. She was 3 of 4 from 3-point range (making her 6 of 7 from downtown in two games against the Huskies) but it was her blazing speed which UConn couldn't deal with.

Bria Hartley starred for UConn, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 25 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 15 points. They were 8 of 16 on 3-pointers and the rest of the Huskies were 3 of 13.

"Maybe we are just not there yet to win this game on this night in this building against this team," Auriemma said.
After the game Auriemma said he believed Baylor and UConn would play in the future but it likely won't happen next season.

"I have to believe that we are going to be playing them again. I don't know if it is going to be next year because we have some commitments with some other teams. You hate to say this but there should maybe be 10 or 15 of these every year by us and by them. There should be 15 games like this where it comes down to the last two minutes of the game."

There was a funny scene outside the media room when Auriemma was being interviewed and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey walked over to shake his hand. She told him it would mean a lot to Griner if he were to congratulate her after she was done with the press conference. "She loves you," Mulkey said.

"Yeah, I love her too. Like a tooth canal."

UConn leaves for South Carolina tomorrow to play the College of Charleston on Wednesday. The game is part of a home and home as Charleston will play at UConn next season.


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