This was not your ordinary week in UConn Huskies sports. Not even close to ordinary for that matter. For one thing, the UConn women’s basketball team lost in the most excruciating fashion. On the flip side of things, the baseball team pulled off an incredible sweep of one of the best teams in the nation. Those stories and more on this week’s edition of Quick Hits.
Women’s basketball team suffers catastrophic end to historic streak
Just one game away from reaching the national championship game, the Huskies took on the Mississippi State Bulldogs, led by Morgan William, a point guard short in stature, but huge in the most clutch of moments. UConn played quite out of character, falling behind by as much as 16 in the first half. No team had done that to the Huskies in years. Sure, they’d been behind before, but never like this.
Nevertheless, UConn crawled back bit by bit and tied the game in the third quarter, a point at which it seemed they were well on their way to victory. Unfortunately for the Huskies, that momentous run didn’t amount to the usual margin of victory. In fact, the team had to continue to fight to make sure Mississippi State didn’t pull away. Ultimately, a last second shot by William in regulation was blocked by the Huskies’ Gabby Williams and nearly banked in from half court by Crystal Dangerfield for what would’ve been a legendary NCAA Tournament moment.
With the chance to win and the shot clocked turned off in overtime, the Huskies had the ball in senior Saniya Chong’s hands. Chong may have been a little impatient and rushed a shot off with 12 seconds remaining that fell extremely short of the hoop and gave William a chance at redemption. The diminutive point guard did just that by burying a floater from the right elbow over the outstretched arm of Williams, and thus ending the UConn winning streak at 111 games. That clutch game-winner also meant the end of a four-year title run for the Huskies and stopped what could’ve been an even more dominant dynasty with the incoming freshman class and transfer Azura Stevens slotting into the 2017-18 lineup. You can read the game stories here and here.
Baseball team pulls off weekend sweep of No. 16 East Carolina
The UConn baseball team travelled to North Carolina this weekend to take on East Carolina, one of the best teams in the nation, only to come back home with a sweep under their belts. Pitching was critical to the Huskies’ success, as they limited the Pirates to just five runs in three games, while clutch hitting brought home much needed run support for the bullpen.
Sophomore pitcher Tim Cate led the way on Friday night with 13 strikeouts, tied for a career-high, in seven innings. But it was RBIs from Keith Kreuger and Willy Yahn in the eighth inning that gave UConn just enough of a cushion such that closer John Russell would seal the deal in the ninth.
The next day, catcher Zac Susi came up huge with a sacrifice fly and an RBI in the eighth to tie the game, before delivering the winning RBI-single in extra innings to give the Huskies another 3-2 win over the Pirates. Again, it was stellar pitching from the UConn staff that gave them the advantage. Starter Wills Montgomerie pitched seven quality innings before the bullpen took over and Russell ensured the victory in the tenth inning.
For the final game of the weekend, freshman southpaw Mason Feole took to the mound and put in an outstanding seven inning performance of his own. Feole allowed just one run, unearned, and struck out six batters on the way to a 5-1 victory for the Huskies to clinch the sweep. This series might put UConn baseball on the map as they look to climb into the NCAA Tournament conversation and look to repeat as American Athletic Conference champions. You can read the weekend series recap here.
The men’s basketball team heard some good news this week, for once. Star point guard Jalen Adams announced through his Instagram account that he will be returning for his junior year. That is a big deal for the Huskies roster, given the recent requests for transfer from Vance Jackson and Steven Enoch.
On the flip side of things, one of the highest-rated recruits of the incoming freshman class, point guard Makai Ashton-Langford de-committed from UConn and re-opened his recruitment to other schools. That is a big loss for head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff, who now have as many as four scholarship openings to fill this offseason. Read the story on Ashton-Langford’s de-commitment.