WACO, Texas — Breanna Stewart had 18 points and 11 rebounds as top-ranked Connecticut won 66-55 at No. 7 Baylor, ending the Lady Bears' national-best 69-game home winning streak Monday night.
In a matchup of the last two national champions, defending champ UConn (18-0) held on to win its closest game this season. The Huskies had beaten their first five ranked opponents by an average margin of 22 points, and nobody had finished within 17 of them.
"We talked about it before the game, we're the kind of program that we search out these games," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We enjoy these games, love the competitive aspect of these games. Baylor's a lot better than the outside world thinks they are because they haven't been away from home a lot of games. We knew coming in it was going to be really difficult, and it really, really was."
Baylor (14-2) hadn't lost at home since a 70-54 defeat to Texas in its regular-season home finale March 7, 2010. Senior starters Odyssey Sims, the national scoring leader, and Makenzie Robertson, the daughter of coach Kim Mulkey, had never lost a game in the Ferrell Center.
The Huskies have two of the five longest home winning streaks in women's basketball, their record of 99 snapped two years ago and an earlier 69-game streak. They have snapped the other three, previously ending Stanford's 82-game streak last season and winning at Tennessee after the Lady Volunteers had been the first team to win 69 straight at home 18 years ago.
Bria Hartley had 17 points, Moriah Jefferson 13 and Stefanie Dolson 10 for UConn, which has won 24 in a row overall. That matches the sixth-longest winning streak in school history, and is their second 24-game winning streak since their record 90 in a row ended in December 2010.
Sims, who entered the contest with 31.8 points per game, finished with 20 points on only 4-of-25 shooting. She made all 10 of her free throws, none after halftime.
Robertson had 10 points including three 3-pointers for Baylor. Freshman Nina Davis had 11 points and 17 rebounds.
It is the fifth season in a row the two national powers have met, this game featuring the two winningest active coaches by percentage and four of the six college players named earlier Monday to the U.S. women's basketball national team pool — Sims and UConn teammates Breanna Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who were all recognized before the game. Three were preseason AP All-Americans (Sims, Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis)
UConn won the first two meetings, 70-50 in the 2010 Final Four, and by one point at home early the following season. Baylor as the No. 1 team for the last two games, winning in Waco two years ago and at UConn last season.
After trailing 36-27 at halftime, Baylor cut the gap to 45-42 with just under 14½ minutes left when Niya Johnson scored on a layup after a bounce pass from Sims.
Geno Auriemma called timeout, but when play resumed Johnson stole the ball from Stewart before Robertson missed a layup. Jefferson then hit a 3-pointer for the Huskies.
Sims hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 11 minutes left, and was only 4-of-21 shooting at the time, to get the Lady Bears within 50-49 — though they never got even or went ahead after that. Stewart made a short baseline jumper on the other end for UConn, which ended the game with a 16-6 run.
Jefferson is the only UConn player from Texas (Glenn Heights in the Dallas area). She had a breakaway layup and a 3-pointer for the first five Huskies points of the game. She then had a steal and stumbled but kept her balance long enough to scoop a pass to Hartley for a layup that made it 10-7.