UConn women fall to Stanford 88-86 in OT, ending 47-game win streak and it may end up being a blessing.
TORRINGTON: Some may call it shocking, some may call it a catastrophe while others may simply walk around with their mouths wide open in disbelieve.
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team lost a game on Monday night.
I’ll say it again because we have not had to say it the last 47 times the women stepped off the court.
The UConn women lost a basketball game to the Stanford Cardinal in California by an 88-86 final in overtime, the first time the Huskies have lost a game since March 12, 2013 when they dropped a 61-59 decision to rival Notre Dame.
Not since Huskies nemesis Skylar Diggins came up with a steal and fed it to Natalie Achonwa have the ladies tasted defeat and as crazy as it sounds and with apologizes to Huskie Nation, it may have been the best thing to happen to UConn and to women’s basketball in general.
Head coach Geno Auriemma had told anybody who wanted to listen that this is a new team with a lot of new parts that have not played in the glare of the national spotlight and on Monday night at the Staples Center, it showed.
It showed at key moments down the stretch when the visitors just couldn’t put away a Stanford team they had down by six in the overtime frame, only to see them come roaring back.
UConn was up three in regulation with time running down but another key three ball, one of so many on this night, by Amber Orrange sent things into overtime.
The Huskies had beaten Stanford twice last year, once in Storrs by a 76-57 score and then again the Final Four with a 75-56 victory that propelled UConn into the National Championship game in which they disposed of Notre Dame for the perfect season and a ninth title.
For most of the off season while awards and accolades have been thrust upon the Huskies, deserved for certain, while teams like Stanford have been waiting for a chance to show how they have improved their game since coming up a game short a year ago.
On Monday night, the Cardinal simply refused to go away, even coming back from 10 down with a little over six minutes left to play.
Breanna Stewart led the Huskies with a hard 23 points while Saniya Chong added 20 but two key players, Morgan Tuck and Kia Nurse, both fouled out leaving the Huskies short down the stretch.
Two key plays in overtime showed that this is indeed a new team that needed a night like this to perhaps throw a wake-up call their way.
With under 20 seconds to play, the Huskies had the ball, down three at 87-84 when Chong, took the easy layup when a three point shot was called for.
The Cardinal got the ball back, up one with 2.6 seconds left, made one of the ensuing free throws, leaving UConn 2.5 seconds, down by two.
Inexplicably, the Huskies failed to even get a shot off and the ball never went near half court.
UConn is not used to playing in these types of games and under that kind of time management pressure that simply didn’t work out in their favor.
Now, it’s November. No need for the UConn faithful to jump off and tall buildings in fact, this might be just what the team needed.
Now the realization that Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley are truly not going to pop off the UConn bench has to sink in.
The Huskies never seemed to get a flow going on offense that they could sustain. Each run was countered by Stanford.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis shot poorly (3-11), thanks mostly to a sensational effort by Kaylee Samuelson who did not allow KML to get many open looks.
Stanford held UConn to a 40.6% shooting night while making close to 50% of theirs.
Lili Thompson led all scorers with 24 points while Orrange added 17 and Bonnie Samuelson had 14.
Writing about fifty point wins on a daily basis and watching UConn sail uncontested for the last 47 games has at times been challenging at best.
By all means, what they did was remarkable but having challenging games like this can only get the Huskies better while showing future opponents that these are truly human beings who will not always be perfect.
As stated earlier, this is a very different UConn team with parts that are not yet tuned up to the standards set by the nine time champions.
The 2014-2015 NCAA women’s basketball scene just got a bunch more interesting and for that, we thank Stanford.