By Carl Adamec
HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has played the two teams it will likely have to beat to win a national championship on its home courts.
The Huskies are 0-2.
Player of the Year Brittney Griner scored 21 of her 25 points in the second half as No. 1 Baylor topped third-ranked UConn 76-70 at a sold-out XL Center in Hartford.
The Bears (25-1) overcame a seven-point second-half deficit to win for the 23rd straight time and 65th time in their last 66 games. UConn (24-2) had won 12 straight since its 73-72 loss to Notre Dame at Gampel Pavilion Jan. 5.
The Huskies led 41-34 after Stefanie Dolson made two free throws with 15:46 left after a Flagrant 1 foul on Griner. But Baylor answered with a eight straight points and built its edge to 63-56.
UConn closed within two at 67-65 and Mosqueda-Lewis’ bid for the lead came up short. An 8-2 run, including two hoops by Brooklyn Pope iced it.
Pope finished with 18 points and nine rebounds off the Baylor bench. Griner’s total gives her 3,000 points for her career.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was outstanding for UConn with 26 points and a career high 15 rebounds. Bria Hartley added 13 points while Dolson and Morgan Tuck had 11 each.
UConn was in control for most of the first half, but let it slip away in the final 2:00. UConn did not trail and led by as many as 11 in the period.
UConn got two baskets from Mosqueda-Lewis sandwiched around one by Kelly Faris for a 6-0 lead. After Destiny Williams got Baylor on the board, consecutive 3-pointers by Hartley and Mosqueda-Lewis made it 12-2.
Dolson’s second straight basket made it 16-5 but the Huskies’ offense went silent for more than four minutes as the Bears pulled within four. UConn got it back to 27-18 but Baylor answered with an 8-0 run to pull within one. Mosqueda-Lewis made two free throws with 0.6 seconds left to account for a 29-26 halftime lead.
It wouldn’t hold up.
UConn returns to Big East play Saturday when they host Seton Hall at Gampel Pavilion. It will be Senior Day and the Huskies will honor Faris, Caroline Doty, and Heather Buck.