No. 2 Conn ecticut 72, Coll. of Charleston 24
The boxscore might say otherwise, but the College of Charleston women's basketball team saw some bright spots in Wednesday's 72-24 loss to No. 2 Connecticut.
The Cougars shot 14.3 percent from the field for the game, including a 2-for-23 start in the first half. Their turnovers matched their scoring total. Connecticut outrebounded Charleston, 50-30. Charleston scored only eight points in the first half, but that still was better than Fairleigh Dickinson, which got only five points in a 74-28 loss in November.
Things like that happen when you're competing against a team that has won seven national championships and has been to the Final Four the last four seasons. Connecticut improved to 10-1. The Cougars fell to 2-8. Charleston is off until Dec. 28, when the Cougars travel to Tulane.
A crowd of 3,868, more than three times the previous record crowd of 1,014 to watch a College of Charleston women's game, showed up to see the Cougars battle the Huskies at TD Arena.
College of Charleston coach Nancy Wilson hopes that will translate into more Cougars fans down the road.
"It's quite a privilege to get to play a team like Connecticut and have that kind of crowd," Wilson said. "I stressed to the team before the game to play loose, play hard and have a good time. I hope they felt loose and enjoyed the experience."
Junior guard Cathryn Hardy said the Cougars were able to enjoy the opportunity.
"It was really fun, a great time. Everyone had fun. Jazz Green making those (two 3-point) shots at the end was pretty sweet. It was a really fun night despite the outcome."
What fans might have expected from a Connecticut team coming off a 66-61 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Sunday night did not happen. Instead of taking things out on the younger, smaller College of Charleston team, the Huskies came out flat. They missed their first nine shots from the field and did not score until Kelly Faris hit a 3-pointer almost 4 1/2 minutes into the game.
The Huskies didn't reach double figures until they had played seven minutes, and the College of Charleston was within six points, 12-6, 11 minutes into the first half.
But Charleston went on a lengthy scoring drought. The Cougars did not score a field goal for almost 20 minutes, from the 8:38 mark in the first half until the 11:46 mark in the second half. Two free throws kept it from being a total shutout.
Connecticut went on a 15-0 run late in the first half and started the second half with an 18-0 burst.
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said the first five to seven minutes of the game, maybe the entire first half, was painful. He expected a better rebound from the Baylor loss.
"We just had a long trip and we have a lot of young guys don't understand how to do that. One thing leads to another," Auriemma said. "When you're making shots everyone starts making them. When you're missing, everyone starts missing. It didn't have a good feel to it. I thought some of the guys did OK."
Auriemma complimented Charleston's effort.
"What they do probably belies their record. They played really, really hard and physical," Auriemma said. "They were really good at getting a body on you and being aggressive. Other than their offensive woes, where they couldn't make a shot, they played pretty hard and competed."
Connecticut shot 44.6 percent (29 of 65) from the field, and Hardy said she felt like the Cougars' defense may have had something to do with the Huskies' shooting problems.
"We can definitely take some positives from this," Hardy said. "We know they didn't make shots, but that also had something do with our defense. The fact we were able to hang with them for a while says a lot about how we should play against Southern Conference teams. We know it ended up being a big point difference, but to hold them as long as we did says a lot about this team."