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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday night stunner

Everything was in place for a coronation. All UConn had to do was beat unranked St. John's to record the program's 100th straight home win and send senior Tiffany Hayes off with a 71-0 record at Gampel Pavilion in her four years at UConn.

However, a St. John's team which gave No. 1 Baylor and No. 4 Notre Dame tussles before fading late, had other ideas.

Shenneika Smith hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds to play and Bria Hartley missed a 3 at the buzzer as UConn suffered its first loss at Gampel since a 60-56 loss to Rutgers on Feb. 7, 2006.

Smith had no attempted a 3-pointer in her last six games and hadn't made one in her previous eight games.

"The kid makes a 3, she was on a roll she might have made her last one," UConn coach Geno Auriemma deadpanned after the game.

Keeping the laugh track rolling, I asked St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico where she would rank 3-point shooting on the list of her team's attributes.

"We're terrible," Barnes Arico said with a laugh. "But we made one to win the game tonight so ... I think that was probably the weakness of our team. Nadirah has been working on it, Shenneika's been working on it, they are all working on it. We got some kids, Briana Brown made a big one for us the other night. It is something we are working hard but we know it is the weak spot of our team. If we have the ability to score in other ways and don't have to go to that then we aren't going to. I think everybody that we plays knows
that it is the weak link of our team and they try to defend us that way."

With just four team fouls going into the final St. John's possession, UConn's plan was the foul before any St. John's player was in the act of shooting to try to run off as much time as possible.

Tiffany Hayes fouled with 19 seconds to go and then Hartley did the same with 12 seconds to go but that left a little more time than the UConn coaching staff would have liked.
"We made a mistake on the second foul, Bria got a little overanxious," Auriemma said. "That is not where we wanted the foul to come and when we wanted it to come. The very last possession it was the same play they have been running the whole game. The kid goes out to the 3-point line, Kiah (Stokes) almost got there in time she was just a tad late and the kid makes her fourth 3 of the year. We shouldn't be in that situation, I thought St. John's put us in that situation the way they played, I thought they played great."

Smith asked the St. John's coaches to run the play leading to her having the 3-pointer and after the game said she was confident she would make it even if she came into the game 3 of 22 from 3-point range.

"I said to the staff at the time, should we go for the win here or should be go for the tie?" Barnes Arico said. "Why not go for the win? We had Da'Shena on the open (post) up so if we didn't hit Shenneika we were going to go inside to Da. She wanted it."

The loss did more than end some streaks, it also many have prevented the Huskies from earning the solo Big East title. Even if UConn wins out, the best it could do is tie Notre Dame for title (assuming Notre Dame wins at Louisville on Monday and beats South Florida on Saturday). If that happens, the tiebreaker will be the best record against the next best team in the conference.

St. John's is currently in third place with a 10-3 Big East record, a game ahead of both Georgetown and West Virginia. St. John's has to play West Virginia and Georgetown and if the Red Storm win out, Notre Dame would win the tiebreaker and get the top seed for the Big East tournament by virtue of being 1-0 against St. John's. If West Virginia and St. John's finish with the same conference record, it does appear as if a coin flip for the No. 1 seed would be needed.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Luigi Codardo said...

Geno and CD are ultimately Responsible for Who they recruit and offer scholarships to.

Geno and CD already new the Weaknesses of Dolson, Faris, Hayes, Doty, KML, and Hartley, when they offered them a Scholarship.

Geno and CD subsequently knew the Effect that any Combination of these players would be.

It was only a matter of Time when Good Teams discovered and Exploited their Weaknesses.

6:22 PM 

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