UConn held up rather well against Baylor's towering front line
Kalani Brown, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, was the team's leading scorer and rebounder and isn't even a starter. Beatrice Mompremier, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, starts for the Lady Bears alongside of 6-2 senior Alexis Prince and All-American Nina Davis. The Lady Bears also have the services of the 6-foot-4 Lauren Cox, the No. 1 ranked player in the current freshman class, and 6-foot-3 Khadijiah Cave.
At game's end, UConn had 26 points in the paint to 22 for Baylor and the most important stat of all - the final score.
UConn's 72-61 win was certainly surprising in many respects. It is never a shocker when UConn wins since that is what they do year after year after year but consider how much basketball Baylor seniors Davis, Alexis Jones (a game-high 23 points) and Alexis Prince have played and it is not wonder that many thought this was the game when the 76-game winning streak would come to an end.
UConn freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield was immense and I will be focusing on her in my second-day story but it's hard to overlook how well the Huskies held up against the bigger Baylor team.
Cave didn't play in Baylor's first two games but the Brown, Mompremier and Cox combined for 74 points on 58 percent shooting. Against UConn they combined for 18 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Meanwhile, 6-foot-1 Napheesa Collier and 5-11 Gabby Williams combined for 24 points on 11 of 19 shooting.
There was one stretch at the beginning of the third quarter when Baylor made it a point of feeding it inside and baskets by Brown and Mompremier gave the Lady Bears the lead. However, UConn called a timeout to go over some things and the duo combined to attempt just three more shots in the remainder of the second half.
"We were letting them use their (size) as an advantage and we wanted to use our quickness as an advantage so we can't them do what they want to do kind of thing," Williams said. "We got tougher, we didn't let them get in the position they wanted, we didn't let them catch the ball as easily and took away layups."
Brown and Mompremier combined for 15 points and 15 rebounds which aren't terrible numbers but they also took eight shots between them which is hard to believe.
I also found it interesting that UConn used a lineup of Dangerfield, fellow freshmen Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin, Natalie Butler and Kia Nurse for the final 2:22 of the second half and Baylor was only able to make up two points during that span.
"Our propensity to put ourselves in foul trouble in these first two games is putting us in bad situations and we found ourselves in another one," Auriemma said. "You can't lose the game in the last three or four minutes in a half unless it is the second half. I thought we bought a couple of minutes, I thought we gave the kids an opportunity to see what is feels like out there and hopefully that helps them going forward. they are on the team so they should be ready to play."