Lessons learned from Baylor
Two nights ago we learned a couple of things about the UConn women's basketball team: the Huskies are not immortal and sophomore forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has the ability to put her team on her back.
Looking at Mosqueda-Lewis's stat line in the first half alone shows how important the young forward is this team. She recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and still had an entire half of the game left to play. Mosqueda-Lewis was one of the main reasons that the Huskies were able to hang with Baylor right to the end of the game.
In the second half Mosqueda-Lewis added 12 more points to finish with 25 on the night. She also finished with 15 total rebounds, including a career high eight offensive boards. Head coach Geno Auriemma has made numerous comparisons between Mosqueda-Lewis and UConn great Maya Moore and said that Lewis is learning how much she can do against talented opponents. While these numbers are impressive and Mosqueda-Lewis' value to her team is nearly unmatched, basketball is a team sport and to beat teams like Baylor the Huskies will need a total collective effort.
UConn guard Caroline Doty had a dismal performance against Baylor, shooting 0-4 from both the field and from behind the arc. Freshman center Breanna Stewart also struggled in the limited time she saw on the floor against the Lady Bears. Auriemma said after the game that in order for Stewart to become a better basketball player, she needs to focus on the mental part of the game.
Stewart is having a good first year at UConn, as she is the third leading scorer on the team behind fellow center Stefanie Dolson. Stewart averages 12.7 points a game but in order for her to make an impact come tournament time, the freshman will need to keep her head focused in the game; as we saw Monday night in Hartford, teams like Baylor cannot be taken lightly.
In order for UConn to defeat teams like Notre Dame and Baylor the Huskies will have to play the type of basketball that they are capable of playing for the full 40 minutes, not just the first half. After the loss to Baylor, Auriemma said, "We could have easily won this game, but were not smart enough to win this game."
I happen to agree with Auriemma's statement as this UConn team has some work to do before the NCAA tournament. If the Huskies turn the ball over 18 times like they did Monday night against Baylor and get out rebounded, they will encounter major difficulties against the elite teams in women's college basketball.
Team's like Baylor make you pay for your mistakes on the floor, not just the big ones but the little ones as well. There were 11 lead changes in the game against the Lady Bears, meaning that the slightest loss of focus could mean the difference between moving on in the tournament or heading home early.
Monday's game against Baylor exposed flaws in the Huskies that we have not seen in Big East play against teams like Marquette and Providence. The important things is that now it's up to Auriemma and the leaders of this team to find solutions to their problems and continue to play the exceptional basketball we all know the Huskies are capable of, because I have a funny feeling we have not seen the last of Britney Griner and the Baylor Lady Bears.
Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerRMorrissey
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