As expected, the sun rose over Gampel Pavilion on Monday, the surest sign life was still sustainable on the UConn campus.
The world did not end when Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis didn’t make the final shot of Saturday’s 73-72 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame. It just shook a little, a slight tremor that knocked hope, UConn’s top ranking and an undefeated season off the mantel.
Baylor is back as the No. 1 team in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll. The Lady Bears received 32 first-place votes after UConn’s loss. The Huskies (12-1) are now No. 3. Notre Dame is No. 2. Duke is No. 4 and No. 5 is Stanford.
The Lady Bears, the defending national champion, had their run of 21 straight weeks on top of the poll end when they lost to Stanford in November. UConn took over the top spot Dec. 29 when it beat Stanford in Palo Alto.
The Cardinal are followed by Kentucky, California, Penn State, Tennessee and Maryland.
Where UConn is positioned now matters as little to it as when they were on top. But all these years, and all the routs, those who bleed blue seem shocked when an opponent plays tough, hangs tough and ultimately toughs out a win against UConn, especially at home.
“We had that issue last year when we came in and different teams and they decided the way to beat us was just to punch us, punch us, punch us. And there’s been a few games this year that we’ve done fine with it and it hasn’t been a problem. And then there was a few games that we let it get to us a little bit,” Kelly Faris said.
“So this is definitely a wake-up call for everybody, and myself included. We knew that was their gameplan. We knew what they were going to do. We’ve played them a thousand times. But from the top down, the upperclassmen to the freshmen, overall we didn’t get done what we needed to get done.’’
Time to face the facts: The chance of an undefeated season is over. But all else the UConn strives for remains in play.
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