The University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team is going to the Final Four for the 13th straight year.
“It’s like Christmas,” said coach Geno Auriemma, who will now lead a Huskies team to the Final Four for the 21st time.
“People say ‘how was your Christmas?’ I never had a bad one.”
But it wasn’t all pine smell and presents for UConn Monday night against No.5 Baylor University. The Huskies actually trailed by 10 in the second half. They needed a 19-0 run to get past the Lady Bears
“Basketball’s a game of runs, so we just tried to stay confident," said freshman Paige Bueckers after the game.
Bueckers scored 28, including 10 during that run that propelled UConn to the lead.
“We just didn’t want to go home and we wanted to keep competing and make it to the Final Four,” Bueckers said.
The Huskies slowed down a bit after the run. At one point, they didn’t score for more than three minutes of game time. Baylor had a couple chances late to take the lead, including a controversial defensive stop in the final seconds that coach Kim Mulkey said should’ve resulted in a foul call.
“I haven’t seen it,” Auriemma said. “But I’d also like to look at all the fouls in the first half where they shot 11 free throws and we shot two, so I don’t think I’m going to go back check all those and I’m not going back and checking on the last one.”
“A call’s a call – and you’ve got to live with it.”
Christyn Williams had 21 points. She was part of the defensive effort that kept Baylor’s DiJonai Carrington from scoring a game-winning bucket.
“It was physical,” Williams said. “There were a lot of no calls. I’d rather that though.”
Williams missed some key free throws down the stretch that kept Baylor within striking distance.
“Those were big – they could have very well went down there and scored and we could’ve easily lost the game,” Williams said.
She said as a junior, she’s got to make those. Nevertheless, she said her teammates supported her after the missed shots. And her team won, so Williams is going to her second Final Four.
Despite the UConn streak, the team is so young that two Huskies have been to a Final Four.
“We have 10 kids on our team who have never been to one Final Four,” Auriemma said. “That to me is what the excitement is all about.”
UConn will meet the University of Arizona in the Final Four Friday.