If UConn Huskies women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma wanted an idea of where his team was, the Baylor Lady Bears would be a good measuring stick.
And when all was said and done, Auriemma found out his team isn't quite as a good as the No. 1 team in the land.
After a rough first half, Brittney Griner poured in 21 of her 25 points to lead Baylor to a 76-70 win over the Huskies in front of a pink-clad sellout crowd and a nationally televised audience on ESPN2 at the XL Center on Monday night.
UConn falls to 24-2 while the Baylor improved to 25-1 and picked up their 23rd straight win since their loss to Stanford.
Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis led the Huskies with a double-double of 26 points and 15 rebounds while blocking three shots. Bria Hartley had 13 points and five assists while Stefanie Dolson had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Morgan Tuck had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench. Breanna Stewart struggled in the game and had no points and no rebounds in just seven minutes of action.
Griner's 25 points allowed her to become the 8th player in women's basketball history to score 3,000 points in her career. She also pulled down nine rebounds to lead Baylor.
Brooklyn Pope added 18 points and nine rebounds while Kimetria Hayden 11 points.
UConn jumped out quickly in this one getting out to a 12-2 lead. But the Bears rallied back too cut the lead to 16-12 with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. The Huskies would get the lead back up to eight only to see Baylor cut it back down to four.
The Huskies then rolled off five straight points to increase their lead back to nine at 27-18. But once again Baylor followed up with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to one. Two free throws by KML with less than a second in the half gave UConn a three point lead.
UConn could have been lucky to enjoy this three point lead at the half as Griner and Odyessy Sims both strugged from the floor.
Baylor started out the second half with four straight points to take the lead. UConn bounced back though and got their lead back to seven points at 41-34.
Things changed in this game when Griner picked up a flagrant one foul for pushing Dolson to the floor. It was like it woke up Baylor.
The Bears used an 8-0 run to take a one point lead and for the next few minutes, the teams exchanged the lead. But a Sims three-pointer with 9:48 to go in the game gave Baylor the lead, one they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way.
That's not to say UConn didn't keep it close because they did, they just couldn't cross the hump so to speak.
As I said above, Auriemma got a chance to see where his team stands. And right now they aren't good enough to beat Baylor.
You could tell that the UConn players were physically tired and that's not something we're used to. And when you're physically tired, mental fatigue becomes a factor and the Huskies couldn't overcome that either.
KML tried her best to keep the Huskies in this one but with no support from anyone else it was a hard thing to do.
One thing's for certain, Auriemma will make sure that this doesn't happen to his team again. You can bet your last dollar on that. When this team is on and clicking, they are an outstanding team.
But this loss showed they are just another good team.
The odds are these two teams will meet again but not until a possible Final Four matchup or even in NCAA Championship game. But until then all UConn can do is try to get better.
In the end, it's good preparation for the stretch run of the Big East where in the last game another big test comes against Notre Dame.
UConn returns to action on Saturday afternoon when they host the Seton Hall Pirates at Gampel Pavilion. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. I fully expect to see a different UConn team in that one.
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Here are your UConn's postgame notes.
Here's a video of a pinked out XL Center.
photo credit: john woike – hartford courant (no. 9 in gallery)