No. 8 Texas A&M women struggle against No. 2 UConn
HARTFORD, Conn. – Texas A&M's Sydney Carter has been struggling with her shooting.
She followed up an 0-for-12 night against Purdue with a 1-for-12 performance against No. 2 Connecticut in the eighth-ranked Aggies' 81-51 loss Tuesday night.
Carter, who had been averaging more than 13 points, scored five against Purdue and had just two against the Huskies. The Aggies (6-2) lost both games.
"Carter's got to get better," coach Gary Blair said. "She knows it, she's our leader."
The defending national champions began the season with six consecutive wins, but fell to 6-2 with the loss.
Texas A&M turned the ball over 20 times, negating a 43-32 rebounding advantage over the Huskies (8-0).
"I just think it's a learning experience for us," said Tyra White, who led the Aggies with 14 points and seven rebounds. "Playing a great team like UConn, it's a lot stuff just to get back in the film room and learn from it. What we need to do on offense. Just keeping our composure on offense and working hard on defense."
The Aggies were 6-1 a year ago, after falling to Duke, and Blair isn't worried.
"We'll get better," Blair said. "Don't give up on us. We were not a whole lot better at this time last year, and I thought we turned into a pretty good ball club."
Tiffany Hayes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis each scored 14 points to lead a balanced offense in the Jimmy V Classic that saw six Huskies in double figures.
"We have a very well rounded team and we'll get it inside, we'll get it outside and hopefully that's harder to scout," said Kelly Faris, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Huskies.
The victory was UConn's 91st straight at home, extending its NCAA record. The Huskies' last home loss came in the 2007 Big East championship game to Rutgers.
"It's too early to anoint them as a Final Four team," Blair said. "I'd be greatly surprised if they aren't. We're not there yet."
Caroline Doty had 11 points as UConn put six players in double figures. She sat out the final 30 minutes of the Huskies' win over Towson on Nov. 30 after suffering a concussion. She showed no ill effects against the Aggies.
"Caroline was great tonight, was happiest for her she's been struggling so much," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We got a lot of things we need to work on down the road."
UConn has opened up the season with eight straight home games. The only ranked team the Huskies played before Tuesday night was then-No. 3 Stanford, which UConn beat 68-58. They begin the Big East season at Seton Hall on Friday before a showdown with No. 1 Baylor on Dec. 18.
"We've been home. Kids haven't felt what it's like to play on the road," Auriemma said. "That will come on Friday, then the Baylor game."
With the score tied 5-all, UConn went on a 20-6 run to take a 14-point lead with 8:17 left in the first half. Kelsey Bone's layup with 16:12 left was the Aggies' only basket during the burst as they missed 14 straight shots after that. White's jumper with 7:15 left in the half ended the drought, but Texas A&M could only get within 10 the rest of the half. Mosqueda-Lewis' 3-pointer with 3:16 left gave UConn a 34-17 advantage. The Huskies led 36-24 at the half.
Texas A&M pulled to 38-28 early in the second half, but UConn put the game away with a 12-2 burst. Hayes, Doty and Mosqueda-Lewis all hit 3s and Bria Hartley added a three-point play.
"We went to a zone and we're in 'htm' — hope they miss," Blair said laughing. "Instead of 'MTM', make them miss."
Tyra White scored 14 to lead Texas A&M.
It's the second straight season that the Aggies played in the Jimmy V Classic. They lost by three to Duke last season before going on to win their first national championship.
"We didn't do a good job out there," Blair said. "We'll get better. Don't give up on us. We weren't a whole lot better at this time last year and we turned into a pretty good ball club. We lost our composure out there in the second half, that's all correctable."
UConn has played in the event three previous times, losing its last two games against North Carolina in 2005 and 2006.