More than one missed shot doomed Huskies
"It is not like one play lost the game for us, we just have to try to not make as many mistakes," UConn freshman forward Breanna Stewart said.
This was never more evident than over a stretch of 2:20 when UConn missed four straight shots and committed two turnovers to allow the Fighting Irish to break a 20-20 game with a 9-0 run. The Huskies were playing from behind for the rest of the first half. The Huskies were fortunate to only be within two by halftime.
"We might have been a little overanxious," Auriemma said.
It also didn't help that the Huskies were perimeter happy in the first half as 14 of the 39 shots in the opening 20 minutes were from 3-point range. UConn had a little better ratio in the second half with nine of the 32 shots coming from 3-point range.
Another issue is that the double-post offense is still a work in progress. Ideally with the way the Stefanie Dolson can finish around the basket, she would be the best option to stay in the low post with Breanna Stewart working in the high post. The only problem is that passing wise, Stewart has still some work to do. This was the third straight game she failed to record an assist and seventh time that happened in the first 13 games.
Stewart very much played like a freshman as evidenced by her 5 of 17 shooting performance and four turnovers. She admitted after the game that she was playing too fast and wants to learn from this game. I think people forget that every great UConn player has endured growing pains early in their careers and Stewart is not immume to that.
Bria Hartley also struggled for most of the game and Caroline Doty was not an offensive presence. Adding to the issues was that UConn relied almost exclusively on six players in the second half. Brianna Banks played just two minutes in the second half, Moriah Jefferson played just a minute and that was more than Morgan Tuck played. Between now and the next time the Huskies play Notre Dame, Auriemma needs to have more faith in those players. In particular I thought this was at least the second game that Banks played pretty well in the first half and barely got off the bench in the second half.
Despite all of this the Huskies came one jump shot away from remaining undefeated. Another positive sign is that UConn has solid leadership with Kelly Faris and Dolson among those players who have taken ownership of the team. Both players vowed to use this game and loss as a chance to move forward.
"It is frustrating, it is embarrassing," Faris said. "They beat us five out of the last six games so when that happens it is embarrassing, it really is. They came here on our home court in front of a sold-out crowd and beat us. They did a lot more things good than we did. We came out in the second half with a better mentality, better focus but it was way too late.
"It is the same stuff. We come down to the end, we have the game in our hands and we come down and lose it. It is frustrating for me because that is my responsibility I am an upperclassman, I am a leader of the team, I am supposed to know what to do, I am supposed to figure out a way to win the game from start to finish. I didn't come out defensively setting the tone or offensively. This one is pretty frustrating because this one is on me."