March 4, 2013 — Extra-time heroics

This evening, I saw something that you rarely see.

And that is a University of Connecticut women’s basketball team blowing a late lead.

UConn was playing at Notre Dame with a No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament on the line and held a five-point lead in the second overtime period with under 2:30 to go.

Only there was something missing from the Huskies’ play. I didn’t see any sort of confidence or floor leadership once three starters fouled out of the game. The Irish also started sending a pair of players to double the ball or add high pressure, kind of like a good women’s lacrosse team.

As a result of that, plus Skylar Diggins’ shooting, the Irish went on a 21-7 run to close out the second overtime, then won the game 96-87 after three periods of overtime.

Throughout Geno Auriemma’s coaching career, he has always had a guard who served as an emotional leader, whether it was Jennifer Rizzotti, Shea Ralph, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, or Maya Moore. But when Bria Hartley fouled out of the game in the final half-minute of regulation, that emotion appeared to leave the team.

As good has Connecticut has played this season, it has been a young team walking a tightrope. Next week we find out what lessons they have learned.

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