HARTFORD, Conn. — Brittney Griner scored 25 points, including the 3,000th of her career, to help No. 1 Baylor rally past third-ranked Connecticut 76-70 on Monday night, extending the Lady Bears' winning streak to 23 games.
Griner became the eighth player in Division I history to reach the milestone, doing it on two free throws with 1:05 left. She finished with 21 points in the second half.
The defending national champion Lady Bears' only loss this season came in Hawaii against Stanford back in November. Baylor (25-1) went 40-0 last season en route to the school's second national championship.
Baylor led 54-53 midway through the second half before Griner took over. She scored seven points during the burst, and her putback made it 67-61 with 5 minutes left.
UConn rallied behind Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to make it a 67-65, but Griner answered with a putback. Then she hit the two free throws 1:30 later to make it 73-67 and seal the win.
Griner had missed key free throws down the stretch when she was a sophomore and her team lost at Connecticut by one point. She wasn't going to let that happen again, beating the only team in the country that she didn't have a winning record against.
The game, hyped up all season, lived up to its billing — even though neither coach wanted to put too much emphasis on this one, knowing there will be a lot more at stake if the schools meet again in the NCAA tournament.
Mosqueda-Lewis finished with 26 points to lead UConn (24-2).
UConn jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 16,294 that was whipped into a frenzy on every Huskies basket. The Lady Bears rallied behind Griner, who was more of a passer than a scorer over the first 20 minutes. She'd catch the ball and quickly draw three UConn defenders before dishing it down low for an easy layup for a teammate.
The Huskies opened a 27-18 advantage with 3:30 left in the first half before Baylor scored the next eight points. Mosqueda-Lewis was fouled just before the half to make it 29-26 at the break.
Griner had four points in the first half and Sims had two as she missed nine of her 10 shots, including her first seven.
The game capped a weeklong celebration of games in honor of former N.C. State coach Kay Yow, who died in 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Baylor wore pink sneakers while UConn had the same color adorning its uniforms. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey wore a pink jacket and leather pants.
"It's good for women's basketball. It's good for television," Mulkey said. "I'm ready for next Saturday. I'm ready to celebrate a Big 12 championship. If we go to UConn and we win, it's great. You're supposed to win. You're the No. 1 team in the country. And if you lose, what have we lost? Nothing."
Baylor has already clinched the Big 12 regular-season title.