STORRS, Conn. -- Bria Hartley had a glow about her Thursday night as she sat in the first row behind the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's bench Thursday night, and not just because she is pregnant with her first child.
The two-time Huskies' All-American and national champion and current WNBA Washington Mystics guard knew better than anyone how Crystal Dangerfield was feeling after the freshman torched No. 2 Baylor for 19 points in third-ranked UConn's 72-61 win at Gampel Pavilion.
On Nov. 16, 2010, UConn erased an eight-point second-half deficit and defeated Baylor 65-64 at the XL Center in Hartford. It was the Huskies' second victory over the Bears in eight months, No. 77 -- like Thursday night's -- and No. 80 of their NCAA-record 90-game winning streak. Then it was another freshman, Hartley, who playing in her second game at UConn led a late charge as she scored eight of her nine points in a 1:47 span with her 3-pointer with 2:09 to go giving the Huskies the lead for good.
She laughed when asked to compare her effort against the Bears to Dangerfield's.
"Well, I'm a little bit taller," said Hartley, whose baby is due in January.
Sitting next to Hartley was another former All-American, Morgan Tuck. The Connecticut Sun forward came to see the 2016 national championship banner that she helped bring here be unveiled.
"I just said to the coaches it would be nice to have everyone available who is on our bench and behind it," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "My comfort level would've gone up immensely.
"It was great to see Bria and that's what nice about our program. We do get a lot of kids to come back and always feel like they're part of this. It's ironic that Bria had a similar impact her freshman year against Baylor like Crystal had, maybe not the whole game but certainly at the end."
Youth MovementIt was only a matter of time that the Huskies' three freshmen -- Dangerfield, guard Molly Bent and forward Kyla Irwin -- would get on the floor in a game together for the first time. But who figured that time would be the final minutes of the second quarter against Baylor?
With 3:36 to go in the first half, Bent replaced Saniya Chong and joined fellow reserves Dangerfield and Natalie Butler, and starters Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier in the game. With 2:23 to go, Irwin came on for Collier, who joined Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson on the bench with two fouls.
The rookies helped the Huskies maintain their slim lead through the rest of the period and it was 32-29 at the break.
"Our propensity to put ourselves in foul trouble these first two games is putting us in bad situations and we found ourselves in another bad situation tonight," Auriemma said. "You can't lose a game in the last three or four minutes of the first half. I thought we bought ourselves a couple of minutes and gave those kids an opportunity to see what it feels like out there. Hopefully, that helps them going forward. They're on the team so they should be ready to play."
Unlike the Florida State game when two Huskies -- Nurse and Chong -- fouled out in the last 17 seconds, no one was disqualified Thursday night though Collier and Nurse finished with four.
Williams, who picked up three fouls in the first 4:21 against the Seminoles, had two in the opening 4:15 against the Bears and was out for the half eight seconds later. But the junior forward played the entire second half and didn't pick up a third, though she admitted she was pretty much running on fumes down the stretch.
She also scored 12 of her 14 points in the final 20 minutes, including a layup when she went up and over Baylor freshman Lauren Cox, to whom she was giving up five inches in height.
"I was definitely disappointed as far as the first half went especially with the foul trouble, because I told myself that I was never going to be in that position again," Williams said. "To be in it in the next game was really frustrating for me, but I'm really happy with how I came back from it.
"Once the second half started I wasn't in foul trouble anymore. I was like, 'OK, play clean. Play your game. Don't get frustrated. Don't play any different than you would just because you have a couple fouls.' It just had to be mind over matter."
Date NightThursday night was the second anniversary of UConn's last loss at Stanford (88-86 in overtime) that ended a 47-game winning streak, the fifth-longest in NCAA history. The Huskies are 124-1 since the start of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
It was also the 20th anniversary of assistant coach Shea Ralph's first game playing at UConn. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native had 13 points in a 74-56 win over Western Kentucky in the State Farm/Hall of Fame Classic at Stanford's Maples Pavilion.
"That's unbelievable. I would have never known that," Auriemma said. "Wow. Wow. Twenty years? It's been a long, strange trip."
Ralph would go on to be the 1997 Big East and national Freshman of the Year. She was an All-American during UConn's 2000 national championship season, earning her a spot in the Huskies of Honor at Gampel Pavilion.