Baylor women turn to Big 12 play after win over No. 1 UConn
WACO, Texas (AP) — Kalani Brown knows No. 8 Baylor can’t get complacent after ending top-ranked UConn’s 126-game regular-season winning streak.
That big win, though, gave a glimpse of what is possible if the Lady Bears keep playing that way.
“The energy we had was crazy,” said Brown, the 6-foot-7 senior post player who had 22 points and 17 rebounds against the Huskies. “If we play every game like that, there’s no telling where we may end up.”
The Lady Bears (10-1) have little time to celebrate their 68-57 win over UConn. The eight-time defending Big 12 champions, who haven’t been to the Final Four since their 2012 undefeated national championship, open conference play Sunday at Texas Tech.
“We will enjoy this, and they should enjoy it, but you can’t overemphasize it. You just can’t,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We’re one of the elite programs. They’re the elite of the elite, and we want what they have. They have a lot of them, and we have just two.”
UConn (11-1), which has won 11 national titles under Geno Auriemma, had not lost a regular-season game since an overtime loss at Stanford in November 2014, just the second game of what ended up being a championship season. The last time the Huskies lost in regulation was at home in February 2013 — to Baylor, then the defending national champion and in Brittney Griner’s senior season.
“Listen, we’re all chasing Geno. Let’s be real,” said Mulkey, who has two national titles in her 19 seasons at Baylor. “I want people to be proud of this program. I want them to be proud that we win on a consistent basis. We’re an elite program. ... We’re still there. We’re still relevant, and that’s all I want to do.”
Before a raucous sellout crowd of 10,248 that gave Auriemma a nice ovation when he walked out on the court just moments before tipoff Thursday night, the Lady Bears trailed only after UConn made the game’s first basket in the opening minute. The Huskies ended the first half with a 12-4 run to get within a point, then tied the game at 32 on Katie Lou Samuelson’s 3-pointer soon after halftime. But Baylor then went ahead to stay on Brown’s jumper with an assist from Lauren Cox, who added a three-point play.
Two days off are followed by their league opener on the road.
“We have to focus on Lubbock because Texas Tech isn’t afraid and they’re not going to back down just because we beat UConn,” Brown said. “We can’t get complacent because we beat UConn because we still have a lot more games to go. Yes, this was a great win, but off to the next one.”
UConn shot only 29 percent (20 of 68), its worst in 20 years, and lost by double figures for the first time since the final regular-season game of 2011-12. The Huskies play their American Athletic Conference opener Sunday at Houston.
The Huskies were visiting Waco for the first time in five years, since a 66-55 win in 2014 that snapped the Lady Bears’ 69-game home winning streak that was then the longest in the country. That was Baylor’s last nonconference loss in the Ferrell Center.
“We’re fixing to go into our league. ... I do know we’re the hunted. We’re fixing to see that for 18 basketball games. And it’s hard to get up and stay up and take everybody’s best shot,” Mulkey said. “It’s difficult. Geno’s the best at it. He’s done it all.”