women’s basketball UConn upset by Baylor

January 4, 2019 GMT

WACO, Texas — They met deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, these two powerhouses in women’s college basketball.

One was riding an incredible 126-game winning streak in the regular season. The other had visions of breaking it.

For a rare change, UConn, the No. 1 team in the country, did not have all the answers. Baylor made sure of it.

The top-ranked Huskies finally ran into a challenge they couldn’t overcome Thursday night, falling to No. 8 Baylor 68-57 at the Ferrell Center.

At times, the Lady Bears were too physical for UConn. At times, they were too quick. And UConn, which hadn’t lost a regular season game in almost six years, had no clue for how to counter.

The Huskies (11-1) had no answers for Baylor’s size, and it showed. Kalani Brown, a 6-foot-7 All-American, and the 6-4 Lauren Cox propelled the Lady Bears (10-1) to a statement win before a crowd of 10,284. Brown had 20 points and 17 rebounds while Cox finished with nine points, all in the second half.

Altogether, the Lady Bears out-rebounded UConn 46-43 and out-scored them by a substantial margin in the paint — 52-10.

UConn threatened to fight its way back, slicing a 61-49 deficit to six points with just under three minutes remaining. However, the deficit ultimately proved too steep for the Huskies to overcome. Back-to-back shots by guard Chloe Jackson sealed it for the Lady Bears.

All-American Katie Lou Samuelson got off to a cold start from the floor and never really heated up, finishing with just 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting, along with 11 rebounds. She didn’t get much help either, as Napheesa Collier (16 points, nine rebounds) and Crystal Dangerfield (11 points) had rare quiet nights.

The Huskies shot only 29 percent from the floor, their lowest percentage in over 20 seasons. They went 11-of-32 from 3-point range.

Despite all their inconsistencies early on, UConn trailed just 30-29 at halftime. An offensive rebound and putback by Samuelson off a pair of missed free throws served as an emphatic end to 20 difficult minutes for the 11-time national champions. There was hope that the Huskies would use that play as momentum heading into the second half, but instead it was quickly forgotten.

The Lady Bears never relinquished a lead that they worked so tirelessly to build. They led 51-47 after three quarters and watched the Huskies fizzle down the stretch. The Huskies, who were resilient enough to rally from 12 points down in the second half last month against Oklahoma, met their match. Baylor extended its lead to a game-high 12 points with 4:29 left.

UConn will look to bounce back when it opens American Athletic Conference play Sunday at Houston at noon.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour