Baylor All-American guard Odyssey Sims had ravaged the first 15 opponents she had faced this season. She led the nation in scoring (31.8). She had not scored less than 22 points in any game. She had games of 48 and 47 points and had been averaging 36.5 over her last four games.
Life was not as easy for Sims tonight against No. 1 UConn. In fact, it was downright difficult. The Huskies held her to a season-low 20 points. She was 4-of-25 shooting from the field (2-of-6 3-pointers) and committed seven turnovers in 36 minutes.
This was a player that had been shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from 3-point range. What saved Sims’ stat line was the fact that she was 10-of-10 from the free throw line.
“We tried everything,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We really did. Every imaginable defense you can imagine that you can guard somebody we tried it. But in the end you’ve got to hope she misses. We couldn’t keep her out of the lane. She got in the lane whenever she wanted. We couldn’t keep her off the free throw line. Although we did in the second half. But she needed 25 shots. And I said we’re not going to shut her out. We’re not going to holds her to 10. She’s going to get her points. But I said I want her to work really, really, really hard, harder than she’s worked all year to get those points. And I thought we responded.’’
Sims scored 15 points (2-of-15 FG; 1-of-3 3-pointers) and made all of her free throws in playing every second of the first half. In the second half, she did not score after making a 3-pointer to bring the Lady Bears to within 50-49 with 10:54 left.
Sims missed her final four shots and had one turnover in the final seven minutes, five seconds that she was on the floor.
“We tried to get the ball out of her hands,’’ UConn guard Moriah Jefferson said. “You’ve got to try to contain a player like that. So we knew that she was going to come out and be really aggressive. So a lot of times me and Bria (Hartley) came up and just trapped her and tried to get her to get it to somebody else.’’
And in the second half …
“She was driving real aggressively to the hole and we just realized we had to keep our hands up,’’ Jefferson said. “So we really just tried to keep our hands up and that helped.’’