UConn women drop to another top 5 team
HARTFORD- For the second time this season, the UConn Huskies were beaten on their home floor by a Top-5 opponent. For the second time this season, UConn was punched in the mouth on its own floor. For the second time this season, coach Geno Auriemma was left wondering about the prospects of his team's chances at winning a national title.
"We could have easily won this game," a frustrated Auriemma said afterward. "We're just not smart enough to win it yet."
Before the game, Baylor was ready; it was in their eyes. They wanted this one, and they came and took it from UConn 76-70.
The Lady Bears are the No. 1 team in the nation and they don't believe that ranking is a fluke. They were jumping around, fist-pumping, chest-bumping and just daring the Huskies for a fight.
At the center of it all is Baylor's superstar center, Brittney Griner, a player who's the most dangerous offensive force in the country, the type of force that gives Baylor coach Kim Mulkey every reason to believe that she's going to win every game.
"That's what your all-Americans do," Mulkey said with a wide smile on her face as she addressed the media. "They want to make something happen."
In the first half, UConn responded and answered Baylor's challenge in a way that made Auriemma see that when UConn plays collectively, the Huskies can beat anyone in the country.
He said that in the first half, the Huskies were doing what it takes to win in big games. He said that UConn was spreading the ball around, creating scoring chances and finding open players.
But for whatever reason, the ball movement stopped down the stretch and the offense grew stagnant. The result was a loss, and a rather disappointing one.
However, the problem wasn't so much the offense late in the game as it was the defense.
In the first half, UConn was rotating, the Huskies were moving trapping Griner every time she touched the ball and it was working as planned.
"Everything we did right in the first half, we didn't do right in the second half," Auriemma said after the game.
Defensively, Auriemma knows that the problem was not Stefanie Dolson. He thought she was terrific tonight and that she did just about everything she was capable of doing.
The problem was that no one player can handle Griner and yet, Dolson was left on an island to defend her. But every time a double team did come, it came in a way that left another Baylor player, be it Odyssey Sims or Brooklyn Pope, wide open for an easy bucket.
Mulkey said afterward that it's Griner's ability to pass that makes her so dangerous as a post player. She said that Griner can see the floor so well thanks to her size and that she's starting use that to her advantage to find open players that can score easy points.
On the UConn side of things, the situation in the post is a source of frustration for Auriemma.
For whatever reason, both Kiah Stokes and Breanna Stewart are in a state right now where Auriemma just doesn't seem to think that they're fit to play.
"It's disappointing that Kiah Stokes and Breanna Stewart aren't good enough to play in this type of game," Auriemma said afterward. "It really pisses me off."
In the case of Stewart, Auriemma thinks that something has happened to her that has made her somewhat iced over.
"I don't know exactly when it happened, but right now Breanna Stewart's mind is not going to let her be the type of player I think she can be," Auriemma said. "Right now, it's not good up there."
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