Please, basketball gods, give us the Baylor Lady Bears vs. the UConn Lady Huskies one more time, maybe April 3 in Denver. If it’s half as good as No.1 Baylor’s 66-61 triumph over the nation’s second-ranked team Sunday night at the sold-out Ferrell Center in Waco, we’ll be in for a treat.
All-American Brittney Griner contributed 25 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots for Kim Mulkey’s undefeated (11-0) Lady Bears while floor general Odyssey Sims pitched in with 7-11 field goal shooting and 23 points. UConn (9-1) was paced by Bria Hartley’s 25 points and freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’s 15.
The two teams offer fascinating contrasts in both personnel and style of play. A deep Baylor squad utilizes not only the 6’8” Griner, but a pair of rugged power forwards in Brooklyn Pope and Destiny Williams to complement a three-guard attack. UConn’s Geno Auriemma these days favors a four-guard lineup combined with heady post Stefanie Dolson.
Understandably, Baylor prefers to run its offense through Griner in the low post, while the more perimeter approach of UConn normally finds Dolson as a high post entertaining a plethora of cutters and spot-up shooters.
Griner and company jumped out quickly, building a 21-14 lead 11 minutes into the game behind eight Griner points. But the Lady Huskies settled into their game, Mosqueda-Lewis brought her scoring touch off the bench to the tune of 11 points and UConn took a 34-28 halftime lead.
Dolson’s two quick fouls induced Auriemma to mix in an old-fashioned 2-3 zone defense which seemed to disrupt the flow of the Baylor offense.
Connecticut had taken the lead 27-26 with just over four minutes remaining in the half, a lead that peaked at 50-39 11 minutes later. They would not surrender this advantage until two Griner free throws gave the Lady Bears a 55-54 edge with 5:30 to go.
UConn managed one more brief lead, but Mulkey’s troops converted on six-of-seven possessions to gain a firm grasp on the proceedings.
On a night that began with a classy north Texas crowd giving Auriemma a standing ovation as he entered the arena, the country’s top two women’s college basketball teams delivered a gem.
What about it, ladies, wanna run it back?