Dixon leads UConn rally
PHILADELPHIA -- UConn was losing this game. With the Elite Eight on the line at an NCAA regional semifinal in Philadelphia, Georgetown's Monica McNutt was sinking her shots and the Huskies' shooting percentage had sunk into the low 30s. UConn senior Lorin Dixon watched from the bench as her final season as a Husky faced a most mortal threat.
"I got a little nervous. Not nervous to the point I felt like it was slipping away -- I felt like we were giving it away," Dixon said.
Ultimately, the Huskies won 68-63, but it wasn't an All-Stater, or even an All-America such as senior Maya Moore, that got them the win. With eight minutes left, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma swapped in Dixon for struggling center 6-5 Stephanie Dolson. The loss of height was balanced by an infusion of speed from the 5-foot-4 guard from Queens, who was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
As she entered the game, Dixon thought one thing. "I don't want it to end here."
She thought about practice, when Auriemma puts an eight-point deficit on the scoreboard and tells the team to claw back from an (imaginary) deficit, or when he puts six defenders out against his starting five and tells his players to figure it out.
She drew on those moments, and, in her first few possessions, Dixon had three steals, an assist and a layup. The layup narrowed the Georgetown lead to two points, her assist on Bria Hartley's shot tied it at 53-53, and then Dixon gave UConn a lead it wouldn't lose with another field goal.
"Georgetown didn't lose the game as much as we won the game," Auriemma said. "We're definitely quicker when Lorin comes in like that."
Dixon always has played for the powerhouse, the favorite. Before UConn, she attended high school in New York City at Christ the King College, which has alumni such as WNBA players Sue Bird and Chamique Holdsclaw. She probably won't take their same path to the pros; instead she is hoping to go to graduate school for psychology.
Philadelphia was close enough to her hometown of Springfield Gardens, N.Y., that Dixon had 13 people who came to watch her play Sunday. She laughed as she described the bond that she has with the other Huskies from New York.
"We always rep that we're from New York so we're better than everybody," Dixon said with a laugh.
After the game, Dixon walked down the hallway of the Liacouras Center with Moore, who had bags of ice plastic-wrapped to both knees. They will practice on Monday before facing second-seeded Duke on Tuesday. Dixon might not start, but there won't be any doubt that she fills a pivotal role on the Huskies and that, without her, even the basketball powerhouse that is UConn might not have made it this far.