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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

UConn's defense steps to the forefront

In the midst of the post-game press conference the UConn players were discussing the chore of defending Baylor's national player of the year candidate Odyssey Sims when it was mentioned that Sims shot 10 free throws in the first half. Geno Auriemma, who is never one to let a chance for a good-natured barb pass, said "she went to the line 10 times, yeah, the first 10 possessions of the game."

All kidding around, it's a pretty safe assumption that the players had yet to get comfortable in the locker room at halftime before Auriemma made it clear that he was somewhat dissatisfied in seeing Sims take 10 foul shots in the first half.

UConn's defensive game plan against Sims was so sound as the Huskies were determined to force the left-handed Sims to go right and if she got into the lane, one of the shot blockers were there to contest her shots. But seeing Sims fouled twice while attempting 3-pointer almost caused Auriemma to implode.

In the second half Sims did not make one trip to the free-throw line and with the nation's leading scorer unable to find room to operate, she struggled to score. Sims did not have a point in the final 10:53 as UConn pulled away for a hard-earned 66-55 victory.

Following the game Auriemma said that Sims "just missed" and that is why she finished 4 for 25 from the field but in reality, he knew his players - especially Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson - played major roles in Sims' tough night.

"We tried everything," Auriemma said. "We really did. Every imaginable defense that you can guard somebody, we tried it. In the end you just have to hope she misses. We couldn't keep her out of the lane, she got in the lane whenever she wanted. We couldn't keep her off the free-throw line although we did in the second half. She needed 25 shots. I said we're not going to shut her out, we're not going to hold her to 10, she's going to get her points, but I said I wanted her to work real, real hard, harder than she has worked all year to get those points. I thought we responded."

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