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Lady Bears nearly block Huskies' streak

Nov. 17, 2010

Huskies extend historic run; Griner scores 19

Associated Press
With seconds left in the game, Baylor's Brittney Griner, right, blocks the shot of Connecticut's Bria Hartley in Connecticut's 65-64 victory in Hartford, Conn., on Tuesday. The Huskies have won 80 consecutive games.

By Rachel Roach
Sports Writer

The No. 2 ranked Lady Bears took on No. 1 ranked University of Connecticut Tuesday and nearly ended the Huskies' historic 79-game winning streak, losing in heartbreaking fashion, 65-64.

The score was tied five times during the game with five lead changes.

"We fought hard. I'm so proud of the kids, so proud of them," head coach Kim Mulkey said.

Senior guard Melissa Jones led Baylor defensively with 14 rebounds.

"I thought that kid was a warrior on the boards at 5-11," Mulkey said.

Three Lady Bears scored in double digits. Freshman Odyssey Sims played point guard off the bench and scored 17 points, making three out of Baylor's four shots from behind the arc.

Sophomore Kimitra Hayden finished with 15 points and was seven for seven at the free throw line. Sophomore Brittney Griner led the Lady Bears with 19 points and totaled nine blocks.

Griner's strength training in the offseason paid off when she scored her first basket while being fouled on the arm and still went up strong.

After a basket from redshirt sophomore Brooklyn Pope and five more points from Griner, the Lady Bears led the game 8-3 and kept their lead for the first five minutes on the half.

But the Lady Bears lost control after tallying up a quick seven turnovers, giving the Huskies the chance to catch up. Connecticut took advantage of Baylor's mistakes and scored eight straight points to bolt to a 13-10 lead. Connecticut forward Maya Moore finished the first half with 20 points.

Baylor went into halftime with 17 turnovers and just five assists, two from Jones and one each from Hayden, Pope and sophomore Shanay Washington. Sims led the team with her perimeter shooting, finishing the first half with 13 points.

The Bears knew they needed to make a change in the second half.

"We started calm and ran through our plays," Hayden said. "We were a lot more energized. We brought a lot more energy to try to slow them down."

Down by 15 in the second half, 44-29, Baylor fought back by stealing the ball and pressuring the Huskies into foul trouble. Stefanie Dolson, one of the Huskies' players guarding Griner, fouled out.

Baylor also began giving Griner more looks.

The Lady Bears made an 8-0 run after they started feeding the ball inside to Griner, who either scored or was sent to the line, helping narrow the deficit to 44-37.

Both teams kept the score close in the second half, battling back and forth and exchanging leads.

With 36.5 seconds left on the clock and 30 on the shot clock, a drive from Jones down the lane brought the Lady Bears within a point, 65-64.

On the next possession, Baylor played a tight man-to-man defense when Bria Hartley made an attempt that was thwarted and blocked by Griner with two seconds on the shot clock and eight in the game.

After a timeout from both Connecticut and Baylor, the Lady Bears rebounded a miss and Sims raced to the other end of the court. Her desperation 3-point attempt fell short as the buzzer sounded.

"When Baylor went on their run, our guys were stunned," Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma said.

The Lady Bears will play Michigan State at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ferrell Center.