UConn's scare against Baylor may be perfect wake-up call for final
SAN ANTONIO -- Bodacious. Resplendent.
The final margin of victory (70-50) does not reflect how difficult the game was for UConn (38-0). It was intense and physical and probably caused some in Connecticut to call their cardiologists. For those who hoped the night would be a transformational moment for women's basketball, the game in which an up-and-coming star leads her team over the defending titans of the sport, they nearly had their storyline. Trailing by 13 after the first half, Baylor opened the final 20 minutes on a 10-2 run while UConn missed nine of its first 10 shots. When
Moore, at least, was not scared. She was jacked up for the semifinal on Saturday, telling associate head coach
Some of it was luck and much of it was senior center
"Going into the game, you're always trying to conjure up all these different scenarios that may or may not come up that you're going to have to deal with," said UConn coach
UConn went right at the 6-8 Griner at the start, with Hayes scoring on a driving layup right over the center's outstretched arm. Charles initially had problems with Griner's length, and Baylor's center altered plenty of shots during the game. When Griner was able to get low position on Charles,
Baylor (27-10) will be a preseason Top 3 team and Auriemma said that UConn will play the Lady Bears early next season. Keep that in mind if the 77-game winning streak is still active. "All I can say is teams just better watch out because what they [Baylor's freshmen] did in their first year is huge," said Medlock. "No freshmen do that unless you're talking about a Maya Moore or a Tina Charles."
But Griner is a discussion for next season. UConn has now won 77 consecutive games and has a familiar opponent in the NCAA final: The Huskies defeated Stanford 80-68 on Dec. 22 in Hartford, a game the Cardinal (36-1) led for 8 minutes, 49 seconds in the first half and 44-42 with 17:19 remaining before a 30-6 UConn run. That game was a national coming-out party for Stanford sophomore
Ogwumike's 38 points is the second-highest indvidual scoring game in the history of the Final Four, behind only the 47 points
"She's developed faster than any sophomore in the country," Moore said. "She has a lot of confidence right now and she uses her body well. It's going to be a tough battle. I personally just want to play the best. I want to be challenged. I want to compete. And Stanford has proven themselves to be that team."
Auriemma looked drained after the game, but he smiled when asked if he was still comfortable when the score gets uncomfortable. "I really enjoyed coaching the game tonight," Auriemma said. "I thought it was a lot of fun. We've played a lot of basketball this year, and there haven't been a lot of opportunities where we've been challenged and we've been pushed to that extent that we were tonight. I enjoy that. I get a kick out of it. Just like Maya said, 'We like the challenge. We like the competitiveness of the game.' It makes you feel like you really accomplished something at the end of the night. That's how we feel tonight. Like we really earned that win. Like we really accomplished something."