Women's college basketball: Largest DI crowd this season comes to see UConn-Kansas State
Geno Auriemma playfully refers to it as the circus coming to town, those road games when big crowds turn out to the see most iconic program in women's college basketball.
On Sunday, it was like Ringling Bros. was taking over Bramlage Coliseum. Fans were lined up outside hours before the game, they squeezed into the 12,528-seat building and they were loud.
The sellout was largest announced attendance for an NCAA Division I game this season and the largest crowd for a women's game at Bramlage since Feb. 4, 2012.
"It was great," Auriemma said. "I love this building. It's really neat the way it's set up. It's a perfect basketball venue. I know they used to get a lot of fans here back in the day, when Deb Patterson was coaching. I know things change and everything goes through cycles.
"But I could feel the excitement as we came in the building and seeing the line outside as we drove up. It's really a great place to play basketball, it really is. I'm sure it's a fun place to watch the game, as well. And there were enough moments where K-State's kids played well enough that I'm sure a bunch of this stuff will be on their highlight film for next year."
Kansas State is 9-1 this season and the Wildcats competed hard against UConn, giving fans plenty of reason to cheer. Auriemma hopes the large road crowds will help expand the women's game throughout the country.
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"The more times we can kind of create that wherever we go, I think the better," Auriemma said. "If 500 people who were at today's game that had never been to a K-State game come back for the next game, then that's a win. And if it just keeps getting better and better, that's one more program that is operating at a level that we all want to be operating at."
The game was sold out nine days before the game, a good sign for the future of the Kansas State program.
"We won a lot of things before this," Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. "Selling this game out nine days in advance, doing those types of thing for our program and women's college basketball, I think that is pretty good.
Senior guard Saniya Chong did not travel with the team to Kansas after experiencing concussion-like symptoms over the past few days. Chong took an inadvertent elbow to the face from Notre Dame's Brianna Turner Wednesday, although she continued to play.
"I knew she was pretty shook up during the game," Auriemma said. "It didn't really present itself until we got home, so our medical staff felt that it would be best if we left her back and hopefully she'll be OK by the Ohio State game [Dec. 19]."
It's the second time a UConn player has been checked for a concussion. Crystal Dangerfield missed the game against Chattanooga after experiencing symptoms following the game against Dayton.
Dangerfield was eventually cleared to play and returned for the DePaul game. Chong will be monitored this week. UConn does not have a game this week, but there are final exams.
"It's a big week for our players," Auriemma said. "I'm hoping she's OK."
This article is written by Paul Doyle from The Hartford Courant and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.