Geno Auriemma takes issue with officiating in UConn’s loss to South Carolina

Jessica Hill/AP

South Carolina led UConn 65-59 with four minutes to play in Sunday’s game at the XL Center when Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said pent-up frustration with officiating caused him to slam a water bottle on the court and draw a technical foul.

USC’s Aliyah Boston converted both technical free throws and added another field goal to extend the lead to 10.

South Carolina held on to win 81-77, but the technical foul’s impact on the game’s momentum was a topic of discussion in Sunday’s postgame press conference.

While Auriemma called it a “dumb mistake by me,” he also took issue with the officiating and said “a lot of things ... were being overlooked.”

For the game, South Carolina was called for 23 fouls, and UConn’s players were called for 21. USC shot 26-of-36 from the line, with UConn going 19-of-25.

On UConn’s second quarter woes this season

“We’ve addressed that. Some of it is the fatigue factor. Some of it is, for some inexplicable reason, we just stop moving. I don’t know what causes that right now. It happened a lot today. It’s just a lot of bad decision-making that we have to correct.”

On his fourth-quarter technical foul

“The technical was stupid. I didn’t say anything for a long, long, long time. If you want to bring (graduate senior guard) Lou (Lopez Sénéchal) in and you can see the bruises on her body. It’s just appalling what teams do to her now. It’s not basketball anymore. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not basketball. That was the problem. I thought that was a problem, more for Lou, not because of anything else. I just don’t like to see a kid get manhandled like that right in front of the officials. ...

“We didn’t make enough 3s to win the game, plain and simple. We didn’t get enough opportunities to, again because we were just standing around watching. We can’t match them 2 for 2. They’re gonna get a bunch of 2s ... offensive rebound, 2, offensive rebound, 2, foul, 3. We’ve got to make up for it at the other end — 3, 3, 3 — and we didn’t do that. Eventually that caught up to us.”

“It was a struggle with the way the game was being managed. I still want to go watch it. There was a handoff right on the sideline in front of their bench and the kid clearly was out of bounds. I asked them to review it and they didn’t. So I’ve got to learn the rules are ... They’re not allowed to review it? They’re not allowed to make some of the calls they made during the game.”

Asked if he or his players were encouraged by the performance

“I asked them that. I said, ‘Do you feel like you’re half full or half empty?’ What do you think? One said it’s empty, it sucks, we lost. So I acknowledged that yes, it does. And it’s supposed to feel that way. But the way the game was played and the way we responded and the way we controlled the tempo of the game for long stretches, how we were really, really good for long stretches. And now we were really bad for long stretches. We didn’t just go hide and let it become 15, 20 (points) and feel sorry for ourselves. In that respect, they have a lot to feel good about once they get past what it feels like to lose.

“I told them I feel better at 3 o’clock today than I did at 12 o’clock, because at 12 o’clock I really didn’t know how we would respond. I knew we would play hard. We were playing hard. I knew we would compete like hell, but I didn’t know who was going to make a big play, who was gonna get a big rebound, gonna make a big shot, you know? Things like that. And I know more now than I did at noon, and I feel better about my team. Not that I didn’t feel bad about them before. I felt great about my team before but I feel really good about them right now.”

Follow-up about the technical foul, frustrations

“As I said, there’s the way the game is played, the way the game is called is going to impact how the game was played. And you as a player and you as a coach have to make some adjustments to how the game is being called that day. And I just thought that there were a lot of things going on that were being overlooked.

“It was very, very difficult for some of our guys to move out on the floor. So I don’t think it was one key play. I just couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“It was bad. Did they get four points on that play? They got four. How many did we get off their technical? Two. So, yeah, dumb mistake by me. Bad decision.”