Nov. 16, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Maya Moore scored 30 points and No. 1 Connecticut won its 80th straight game, 65-64, holding on when No. 2 Baylor missed a last chance to score.

A record winning streak exactly two years in the making came down to the final seconds. The Huskies are now eight wins short of matching the 88-game string put together by UCLA's men's team in the 1970s.

Moore missed from the corner in the closing seconds left and the Bears rushed down court trying to get off a last shot. Odyssey Sims launched a 3 from well beyond the arc at the buzzer--it fell short but it didn't matter, it came too late.

Coach Geno Auriemma covered his head with his hands as he met Baylor coach Kim Mulkey at midcourt.

Ahead 44-29 early in the second half, the Huskies suddenly found themselves in trouble when 6-foot-8 star Brittney Griner took over for Baylor. The Bears rallied, taking an eight-point lead with 6:42.

Then, freshman Bria Hartley emerged for the Huskies.

"I thought we played great for long stretches. Obviously Baylor is a great team and they made their run," Auriemma said. "Then the improbable happened, people other than Maya began scoring."

"They don't know what's its like to come back from a run," Auriemma said.

It's true. The Huskies have spent the last two seasons rolling over the rest of women's college basketball, waiting for a real test.

They got one Tuesday night.

Tiffany Hayes added 16 points for Connecticut (2-0). Griner scored 19 points and had nine blocks for the Lady Bears (3-1). Sims added 17 points and Kimetria Hayden had 15.

Melissa Jones had a putback for Baylor that made it 65-64 with 36.5 seconds left.

UConn ran the clock down and Moore missed with 6 seconds left as the shotclock went off.

Having just used its last timeout, Baylor had no choice once Jones grabbed the rebound. The Bears had to get to the basket.

Sims brought the ball up the court but her 30-foot attempt fell way short.

Trailing 56-48, Moore, Hartley and the Huskies wouldn't let the streak end, closing a physical game with a 17-8 run.

It was the 46th time that the top two teams in The Associated Press Top 25 poll have played. The No. 1-ranked team holds a 27-19 lead.

This is the earliest that the top teams have played in either men's or women's basketball. UConn improved to 10-1 in those contests as the top team.

During its current run, UConn has faced the No. 2 team four other times and won by nearly 17 points a game.

Griner and Bears nearly changed that.

After going scoreless for nearly 21 minutes, the sophomore phenom keyed a 27-4 run over the next 9 minutes, scoring 11 points on an array of post moves.

Sims' layup tied the game at 48 with 9:15 left. Jordan Madden followed with a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Bears their first lead since early in the first half.

They extended the lead to 56-48, hitting five of six free throws. That was the biggest second-half deficit UConn had faced late in the game during its vaunted streak.

Moore wouldn't let the string end there. down. The senior had an acrobatic three-point play that made it 56-51 with 6:42 left. Hayes followed with a layup and two free throws and Hartley's 3-pointer tied it at 58 with 3:57 left.

After a turnaround by Griner, Hartley hit a layup over Griner and followed it up with a 3-pointer to make it 63-60.

Hayden's reverse layup cut Baylor's deficit to one before Moore hit a sweet pullup from just above the foul line to extend the advantage to 65-62.

Baylor and Griner were supposed to give the Huskies an early-season test. The game was a rematch from last season's national semifinal, which Connecticut won 70-50. While the Lady Bears had mostly everyone back, UConn graduated national player of the year Tina Charles.

The Huskies started freshman Stefanie Dolson on Griner and the Lady Bears went right at the first-year player. Griner scored six of the team's first 10 points and picked up two fouls on Dolson in the first 3 minutes. Her two free throws with 16:54 left were her last points of the half.

Auriemma turned to 6-foot-1 freshman Samarie Walker, who despite giving up 7 inches more than held her own against Griner. She settled for turnaround jumpers and didn't try attacking the basket at all. Griner didn't score for nearly 21 minutes, taking only four shots over that span.

UConn greats Sue Bird and Swin Cash were part of the crowd of 12,628.

It's been a busy opening stretch for Baylor, playing four games in five days. The Lady Bears breezed through their own tournament winning all three games by an average of nearly 43 points. After finishing up Sunday, they traveled into Connecticut on Monday for the showdown with the top-ranked team.