The Connecticut women’s basketball team has not won a national title since 2016, which is weird enough. But to see the Huskies lose in the regular season is downright nutty, and that’s exactly what happened Thursday night when eighth-ranked Baylor scored a 68-57 home win over top-ranked U-Conn., snapping its streak of 126 straight regular season victories.
The Huskies’ last loss between November and March took place on Nov. 17, 2014, when they lost in overtime to Stanford. They hadn’t lost a regular season game in regulation since a loss to the defending national champion Lady Bears on Feb. 18, 2013. They hadn’t lost a regular season game by double digits since Barack Obama’s first term as president, a 13-point defeat to Notre Dame on Feb. 27, 2012.
So yeah, taking down Geno Aueriemma’s team is a pretty big deal, even if Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey tried to claim it was just another game on the schedule.
“Listen, we’re all chasing Geno, let’s be real,” Mulkey, who has two national titles to Auriemma’s 11, said after the game. “I didn’t know it was a first. I don’t coach like that. I just want to win the next game.”
Flustered by Baylor’s length — especially 6-foot-7 Kalani Brown (22 points, 17 rebounds) — the Huskies shot just 29.4 percent (20 of 68), which ESPNW’s Mechelle Voepel says is their worst outing in the past 20 seasons. They made just 9 of 36 shots from two-point range. U-Conn. Katie Lou Samuelson, the two-time all-American who came in averaging 20.1 points per game, had only 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Auriemma said the loss simply showed how difficult it is to compile the streaks for which his program is renowned.
“I think some people sometimes get this impression that at U-Conn. we have magic dust and our kids are all perfect players and all great students and they all shoot great and it’s just a matter of how much we’re going to win by,” Auriemma said, per the Hartford Courant. “It’s taken for granted, I think. When you realize how hard it is, you would appreciate even more what we’ve done. It’s not as easy as we make it look at times. You’re allowed to get beat once in a while. What fun would it be if you won all the time? It would be an exhibition. We could save the plane fare. We could call you up, ask you what you wanted the score to be, and we could stay home. If you show up, you have to be ready to accept losing. We don’t lose a lot.”