HARTFORD, Conn. — Kim Mulkey and Baylor are making a habit of ending UConn’s streaks.
Tea Cooper scored 27 points and No. 6 Baylor used a dominant fourth quarter to beat top-ranked UConn 74-58 on Thursday night, ending the Huskies’ 98-game home winning streak.
It was the second consecutive year that the Lady Bears ended a long UConn run. Last season, Baylor stopped the Huskies’ 126-game regular-season winning streak.
“We just happen to be the team that beat them. Not anymore than that. Streaks are made to be broken,” Mulkey said.
UConn fell one victory short of tying its NCAA record of 99 wins in a row at home. The Huskies previous loss at home came in the Big East final against Notre Dame on March 12, 2013. The defeat Thursday was the worst for UConn since a 23-point defeat to LSU in a region final of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
“It hurts because that spans from three other teams,” UConn senior guard Crystal Dangerfield said.
It was the worst home loss since Dec. 5, 2005, when UConn lost to North Carolina by 23 points.
Baylor (12-1) led by three going into the fourth quarter, and neither team could get much going on offense in the first few minutes of the final period. The Huskies cut their deficit to one on Christyn Williams’ jumper with 6:36 left. Then the defending national champions took over.
The Lady Bears responded with the next 15 points to put the game away. The run started on a layup by Lauren Cox and two baskets by Nalyssa Smith. Smith finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
“We went on a run and they just missed some shots,” Mulkey said. ““We didn’t do anything differently in the fourth quarter. Fatigue set in, or our defense was that good in the fourth quarter. We’re going to guard you, man. Don’t think there was any secret about that. I’d like to tell you we made a change and I was a genius.”
UConn (12-1) didn’t score a basket after Williams’ jumper until Dangerfield hit a 3-pointer in the final minute and the game decided.
Williams had 21 points to lead the Huskies.
This was UConn’s first real test of the season. Since 2007, the Huskies (12-1) have played at least one team ranked in the top five before the new year. This season the only ranked opponent UConn has faced before Thursday was then-No. 16 DePaul.
“You know, we have a really young team — young in terms of being able to play in this kind of game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “They don’t know how to play in this kind of game. ... Fourth quarter we got four stops in a row and we came out empty-handed in all four possessions. Had we scored in three of those possessions, we might have won the game.”
Still to come on UConn’s schedule: Its two American Athletic Conference games against USF this season. The Bulls host the Huskies on Feb. 16 and travel to Hartford for a game March 2.