First let me say that Griner is simply awesome. She has made tremendous improvement in her game. Her over the left shoulder sky hook is beautiful. She is going to get better and better, and the teams facing Baylor are going to have to find a way to frustrate her or otherwise keep the ball out of her hands. And she’s only a sophomore. Oh my!
That said, UConn found a way to play Baylor without focusing too much on Griner. They didn’t double team her, and they didn’t get in foul trouble trying to keep her away from the basket. Griner took and made a lot of shots, and so did other players for Baylor, but UConn stayed focused and made a ton of threes, especially in the second half. The Huskies bench came up huge, as well, with 6’0 forward Kaleena Mosqueada-Lewis adding points and 6’3 junior forward Heather Buck using her size to battle Griner in the post defensively. And Bria Hartley took the game in hand and shot the hell outta the ball. Also, the 2-3 zone worked wonderfully to protect the paint against Griner in the second half. An amazing stat: with 4:51 left in the game, UConn made its first free throw attempt of the game.
This isn’t a team of stars, and Tiffany Hayes is the only Senior, but they have heart and they have game. Tonight someone was going to have their first loss of the season–Baylor was 10-0 and UConn was 9-0–and it was a hard fought game, I’m just sorry it was UConn. But it was a great game.
And hats off to ESPN for having Jeff Van Gundy as a commentator for the game; he’s an awesome addition.