WACO, TEXAS - Longtime coach Geno Auriemma knew that the top-ranked University of Connecticut women’s basketball team 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 regulation regular-season game 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 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Lady Bears (10-1).
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 and seven rebounds.
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.
“It just felt like everyone was kind of stagnant out there. We were all just looking at each other,” said Samuelson, who 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.”