No. 1 UConn’s 126-game Win Streak Ends 68-57 at No. 8 Baylor
WACO, Texas (AP) — Geno Auriemma knew that top-ranked UConn couldn't keep winning every regular-season game it played, even though the Huskies had won 126 in a row.
That winning streak of more than four years ended with a 68-57 loss Thursday night at No. 8 Baylor, which won against a No. 1 team for the first time.
"What is disappointing for me, not that we lost. How long did you think you were going to win every game in the regular season, 10 years?," Auriemma said. "So I'm not surprised that we lost, but it was disappointing that we struggled so much on the offensive end."
The Huskies (11-1) hadn't lost a regular-season game in regulation since a 76-70 home loss to Baylor in a Nos. 1 vs. 2 matchup on Feb. 18, 2013 — a span of 163 games. Their only regular-season loss since then was 88-86 in overtime at Stanford on Nov. 14, 2014.
"Stanford in 2014. Think about that," Auriemma said.
The 11-time national champion Huskies shot only 29 percent (20 of 68) with their lowest point total this season. Their only lead came at 2-0 when Crystal Dangerfield scored in the opening minute of the game.
Kalani Brown had 22 points and 17 rebounds for the Lady Bears (10-1), before a sellout crowd of 10,284 at the Ferrell Center.
UConn is the only No. 1 team Baylor has ever faced in 19 seasons under coach Kim Mulkey, who has two national championships coaching the Lady Bears. They had lost each of the previous three such meetings, including UConn's last visit to Waco nearly five years ago.
"Connecticut gets everybody's best shot. They don't lose much, we don't lose much," Mulkey said. "When you can do it year after year after year, taking people's best shots and you have a shot to play each other, it's good for women's basketball."
Chloe Jackson added 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Baylor, while NaLyssa Smith had 12 points. Juicy Landrum scored 11 points, while Lauren Cox added nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
Napheesa Collier had 16 points and 11 rebounds for UConn, while Katie Lou Samuelson also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. But the two seniors were a combined 10-of-34 shooting. Dangerfield had 11 points and Megan Walker 10.
Baylor led 30-29 at halftime. The Huskies finished with nine turnovers to just five for Baylor.
"It just felt like everyone was kind of stagnant out there. We were all just looking at each other," said Samuelson, who was guarded by sophomore DiDi Richards and missed her first six shots and finished 4-of-16. "We weren't hitting those difficult shots, and sometimes we do, but we don't always. When we're not getting shots in our offense, we shoot worse than we normally do. That's on us to be able to figure that out."
Mulkey was impressed by the defense of Richards.
"That kid defended Samuelson with every ounce of energy that she had," Mulkey said. "DiDi has the length, she's active, she made Samuelson work for every shot."
UConn: Auriemma's team was coming off tough wins at Oklahoma and California. After both games, he said that's the usual experience for most teams. However, this time UConn couldn't pull off a late comeback. The last time UConn had consecutive losses was in 1993 — a span of 937 games going into its conference opener.
Baylor: The Lady Bears have won 28 consecutive home games. They extended their nonconference home winning streak to 45 games since a home loss to UConn on Jan. 13, 2014.
IN THE PAINT
Baylor outscored UConn 52-10 in the paint. The Lady Bears were led by 6-foot-7 Brown and 6-4 Cox. Brown finished 11 of 17 from the field. "Are you surprised that they scored 52 points in the paint," Auriemma said. "I would think they would suck if they didn't score 52 points in the paint. They've got every one of our guys by six inches, so we knew that was going to happen, and we were OK with that. What we weren't OK with was how hard it was for us to get the shots that we wanted. And then when we did get the shots that we wanted, we didn't make any of them."
UConn: The Huskies, who haven't lost an American Athletic Conference game in five full seasons in the league, open conference play Sunday at Houston.
Baylor: Won its ninth Big 12 title last season. Opens league play Sunday at Texas Tech.