SAN ANTONIO _ After rallying from 17 points down to get within three points of top-ranked Connecticut with less than 15 minutes left in the game, Baylor appeared poised to take down the country's most dominant team.
But the Lady Bears couldn't locate the basket after that. And they didn't have an answer for UConn's bookend All-Americans _ Maya Moore and Tina Charles.
Moore and Charles combined for 55 points and 25 rebounds as UConn stretched its winning streak to 77 games in a row with Sunday's 70-50 victory over the Lady Bears in the NCAA national semifinals before 25,817 mostly Baylor fans inside the Alamodome.
The Lady Bears weren't sure whether they hit a wall once they got to within 41-38 of UConn with 14:55 left in the game. But they sure hit a lot of sour notes, finishing the game with just 37.8 percent shooting from the field.
"They shots weren't falling and they made a run and I think basketball is a game of runs,,'' Baylor forward Morghan Medlock said. "Tonight's game was a game of runs mixed in with a little bit of inexperience.
"That's what happened. The experience and them going on the (21-6) run when we cut it to three.''
With the loss, Baylor ended the season with a 27-10 record. The loss also occurred on the 10th-year anniversary of the day Kim Mulkey signed a contract to become Baylor's new coach.
But what transpired Sunday was nothing for Mulkey to celebrate. Especially the way Moore (34 points, 12 rebounds) and Charles (21 points, 13 rebounds) picked apart the Lady Bears' defense.
"She's the National Player of the Year, isn't she?,'' Mulkey asked, referring to Moore. "That's what they do.
"National Players of the Year, they don't get rattled. They get big offensive and timely rebounbds, and she did.''
Baylor 6-8 freshman center Brittney Griner had difficulties getting untracked, mostly because UConn sent everything but the kitchen sink at her. The Huskies rarely played Griner one-on-one as they sent three and four players at her whenever she got possession of the ball.
"She just did what normally every other post does,'' Griner said of Charles. "She's physical, she tried to get me off the block.
"She was a lot better than most other posts, and I wouldn't say I got frustrated or upset. I felt it was a battle and she had more experience that I did.''
Griner was just 5-of-13 from the field and finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five blocks. She also altered the direction of at least a dozen more shots.
"It was definitely there for us to take,'' Griner said of a possible upset. "We just (made) mistakes and let it slip through our fingers.
"It was right there. But I feel like we never stopped playing to our ability and we kept trying to get that, to get it down.''
If Griner's teammates could have buried a few more perimeter shots _ the Lady Bears were just 1-of-7 from three-point range _ perhaps that could have given Griner more room to operate. As it was, Charles got a lot more help from Moore than Griner got ffrom her supporting cast.
"It was definitely a battle, just physically, just trying to push her off the paint,'' Charles said. "Coach was definitely getting on me about the seven layups I gave up and not forcing her to go to the middle.
"That's where my help was.''
Despite winning this matchup with Griner, Charles _ named the Associated Press Player of the year on Saturday _ sees a very bright future ahead for Griner.
"She's definitely going to be a great player coming out of college,'' Charles said. "You definitely can see she wants to work hard.
"When her team comes around her and tells her we need to post deeper, she responded and she'll try to get me deeper in the lane. But she's going to be a great player.''
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said the marquee matchup between Griner and Charles went the way he thought it would go.
"Brittney was going to get X number of points and there's nothing you can do about it,'' Auriemma said. "She's going to block some shots and there's nothing you can do about it.
"I also knew Tina was going to get hers. Tina's a senior, she's been around a little bit. She knows what she needs to do.''
In Charles, Auriemma said Griner was going up against a talent she hadn't seen before in her brief college career.
"I think that might be the best player Brittney's ever played against in her short college career,'' Auriemma said. "So I would expect Tina to come out on top in that matchup, her being a senior.''
After the game, Auriemma stopped and had a discussion with Griner.
"He just told me that I was a good player and just keep going,'' Griner said. "And it means a lot for the other coaches to just tell you that you're a good player and just to keep working hard.''
UConn (38-0) has now won 77 games in a row and will play second-ranked Stanford (36-1) at 7:30 Tuesday night in the national championship game. Stanford disposed of Oklahoma in Sunday's other semifinal game, 73-66.
Baylor looked nervous at the beginnng as they missed eight of its first nine shots and committed eight turnovers in the opening 10 minutes while falling behind 25-8. The Lady Bears ultimately used a lof of energy getting back into the game, but fell apart towards the end.
"I think they believed before they tipped off that they could (win),'' Mulkey said of her young team. "I don't think I coach any kids that think they can't do it.
"I mean, they were trying out there. They played hard. They just got beat by two All-Americans.''
Auriemma said he really enjoyed the atmosphere when the Lady Bears closed the 17-point deficit down to three points. He also was happy his team was able to turn 21 Baylor turnovers into 18 points.
"We've played a lot of basketball this year, and you know, there haven't been a lot of opportunities where we've been challenged and we've been pushed to that extent that we were tonight,'' Auriemma said. "And I kind of enjoy that. I do. I enjoy that. I get a kick out of it.''
Auriemma enjoyed it so much that Baylor and UConn will play home-and-home series over the next two seasons, with the first game in Connecticut next year while the Huskies will play in Waco during the 2011-'12 season.
While only losing senior Morghan Medlock off this year's squad _ that includes five freshmen _ Baylor is primed to be a major player on the women's college basketball front next year and beyond.
"I think one statement I can just bluntly make about that is without those five (freshmen) we wouldn't have been here, period,'' Medlock said. "And they have a bright future ahead of them, and all I can say is the teams just better watch out because what they did their first year is huge.
"No freshmen do that, unless you're talking about a Maya Moore or Tina Charles. But collectively I think they did a great job and they're only going to get better. They have three years left and it's just going to be amazing to watch them grow and grow and turn into the players that UConn has and things like that their junior and senior years.''
-- Dwain Price