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Created by thedayct on Mar 2, 2010
Last updated: 01/03/11 at 09:23 AM
Top-ranked UConn's record 90-game winning streak is over.
The Huskies never led and were beaten by No. 9 Stanford 71-59 on Thursday night, ending a remarkable run that drew national attention and acclaim to women's basketball.
Stanford was the last school to beat coach Geno Auriemma's team, in the 2008 NCAA semifinals.
Maya Moore had 17 points and eight rebounds and No. 1 UConn earned its 90th straight victory with a 85-42 win over Pacific on Tuesday night, a lopsided West Coast warm-up for the Huskies' showdown with ninth-ranked Stanford on Thursday.
UConn (12-0), on the court in Northern California only a few hours after the Cardinal whipped No. 4 Xavier 89-52 at Maples Pavilion, was solid and methodical in its first game since topping the 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden's UCLA men's team from 1971-74 by beating No. 22 Florida State 93-62 on Dec. 21.
It was an evening that was punctuated by the Hall of Fame coach, UConn's Geno Auriemma, receiving a telephone call from the President of the United States during the middle of his postgame press conference, underscoring the fact that this was a pretty significant moment in history.
The UConn women's basketball team rang up consecutive victory No. 89 Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center, dispatching Florida State 93-62 and capping a media frenzy that had the Huskies featured on ESPN Classic, ESPN2 and ESPNU practically around the clock the last three days.
Geno Auriemma finally had to address history with his team this week, just to make certain the players knew what to expect in front of a crowd of 15,232 Sunday at Madison Square Garden, all eyes in the college sports world ready to scrutinize.
"I said this is what's happening. This is what's going to happen. You can't hide from it," said Auriemma, coach of the UConn women's basketball team. "… You're not going to do it by falling over your two feet. You're going to have to do it the right way."
And so top-ranked UConn won its 88th game in a row, tying the record for most consecutive Division I basketball victories that was set by the UCLA men from 1971-74.
Now they have 10 days to think. First about final exams. Then about college basketball history. Yes. The next time the UConn women play basketball, they will breathe sanctified air, linked to John Wooden, UCLA and the winning streak of a lifetime.
The 87th straight win came Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion, 79-47 over Marquette, moving the Huskies to 9-0 overall, 2-0 in the Big East and into an ocean of historical questions.
Never let it be suggested that UConn women's fans aren't paying attention. In the labyrinth of the holidays, UConn football history and life in general, they still knew exactly how many points Maya Moore needed to write history Sunday at the XL Center.
And so came the explosion from 10,223 witnesses when Moore made a 10-footer with 12 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half. They were Moore's ninth and 10th points, enough for her to surpass old friend Tina Charles on the UConn women's basketball career scoring list.
Moore finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks, clearly the centerpiece of the Huskies' 86-32 win over Sacred Heart.
Maya Moore never got into an offensive rhythm. Tiffany Hayes struggled shooting the ball, too.
Not to worry, top-ranked UConn kept rolling toward that record without stellar performances from its top two scorers.
Freshman Stefanie Dolson scored 16 points - more than twice her season average - and the Huskies moved a step closer to the longest Division I winning streak in college basketball history by beginning Big East play with an 80-54 rout of South Florida on Thursday night.
The easy part is watching Maya Moore catch a pass from Stefanie Dolson and throw in a crazy reverse layup that had even Moore, the best player in the country, running back down the floor shaking her head.
The hard part for the UConn women's basketball team this season is getting every other player to undertake a different role than ever before, while still maintaining the No. 1 ranking in the nation and dealing with the hype surrounding an unprecedented 84-game winning streak.
Geno Auriemma, coach of the UConn women's basketball team, watched his counterpart, UConn football coach Randy Edsall, take on Cincinnati earlier in the day and ride the coattails of Jordan Todman for 175 yards rushing, three touchdowns and a monumental victory.
"I know it takes a lot of people to win a football game; it takes a lot of people to win a basketball game. (But) I don't think the strategy is very difficult," Auriemma said with a smile. "Whether you're in Maui, whether you're in Storrs or whether you're in East Hartford, the strategy is all the same. It's just a matter of who calls timeout.
It wasn't necessarily a priority just Friday night, for win No. 82 in a row. It's always the goal to get the ball into the post, UConn forward Maya Moore said.
"It just makes us that much harder to guard. That just gives us a whole lot of momentum," Moore said.
UConn's women's basketball team won 86-25 against Howard University on the first day of the World Vision Challenge at Gampel Pavilion, getting career highs in points from both starting center Stefanie Dolson and backup Heather Buck, who combined to finish with 17 points in the final eight and a half minutes of the first half.
Maya Moore wanted to treat it like just another game, and for the most part it was. Another outstanding performance. Another UConn win.
Moore didn't truly savor her homecoming until she finally came off the court with less than a minute to go.
Looking up and all those family and friends, she clapped for them.
Moore scored 30 points in her return to Atlanta, leading top-ranked UConn to its 81st consecutive victory with a 71-51 rout of Georgia Tech on Sunday. The Huskies (3-0) tied Washington University, an NCAA Division III school, for the most consecutive wins by a woman's program at any level.
When it was over, more than 12,000 roaring fans realized they were very lucky to be in the XL Center on Tuesday night and smart enough to know they ought to enjoy it.
Indeed, there was drama, which is not always part of UConn women's basketball games. There was even jubilation from Coach Geno Auriemma, who threw his arms skyward at the final horn, celebrating the Huskies' 80th straight victory.
The top-ranked UConn women overcame an eight-point deficit in the final seven minutes and defeated No. 2 Baylor, 65-64.
It didn't really matter which starting lineup UConn coach Geno Auriemma used for Sunday's season opener or where the nation's longest winning streak in history stood or what the weather was outside of Gampel Pavilion, for that matter.
The UConn women's basketball team had Tiffany Hayes.
And that was enough.
"We get so excited whenever she comes to play," UConn senior All-American Maya Moore said of Hayes, a junior who was recently labeled by ESPN.com as the best shooting guard in the country. "You can see the whole level of our team just rise when she is playing well and she's into it."
On the day the top-ranked Huskies unveiled last season's national championship banner prior to the game, Hayes had a career-best 32 points, a program-record 30 in the first half, as UConn blew out Holy Cross 117-37.
Win No. 78 in a row took a dose of chutzpah and a lot of Maya Moore, as UConn came back from a nine-point deficit in the first half against Stanford, crawling its way to a seventh national championship with a 53-47 victory before 22,936 fans at the Alamodome and etching its name beside back-to-back unbeaten seasons for the first time in the history of the game.
As of this weekend, UConn had not just one national player of the year, but two as Maya Moore won the Wade Trophy and Tina Charles was awarded the honor handed out by The Associated Press.
The two of them proved Sunday why the voters did what they did, too.
Assuring it was unbeaten UConn which had a date with the history books, not 6-foot-8 freshman center Brittney Griner and the Baylor University women's basketball team - although Baylor certainly did enough to heighten the game's intensity - Moore and Charles combined for 55 points and 25 rebounds in dispatching their opponents in the national semifinals.
Moore had 34 points and 12 rebounds and Charles 21 points and 13 rebounds for UConn, which lengthened its NCAA record winning streak to 77 games with a 70-50 victory over Baylor before 25,817 fans on Easter at the Alamodome.
If you asked coach Geno Auriemma prior to the season if his team would be making its third straight trip to the Final Four, to deny it would be less than truthful.
But for his UConn women's basketball team to win the Dayton Regional final by 40 points Tuesday night over Florida State to reach that coveted milestone - in the midst of a 76-game winning streak - it's all a little hard for him to comprehend.
"The way we're going? How it's happened?" Auriemma said. "That has been a huge, huge surprise."
By the time the regular season ended and UConn played in the Big East Conference tournament, just getting open was a chore, coach Geno Auriemma was saying Sunday afternoon, because of the sheer familiarity between the opponents.
"Shooting becomes really, really difficult. Then you start to over-think it a little bit," Auriemma said. "The Big East tournament is hard."
Then came the NCAA tournament.
Not only did UConn's offense return, it came back with a series of detonations, the latest of which was a 74-36 victory Sunday over fourth-seeded Iowa State in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 before 5,825 fans at the University of Dayton Arena.
A few days ago, in light of the way UConn's season is progressing, players Tina Charles and Maya Moore were asked to explain what perfection means to them.
They answered thoughtfully.
Then Tuesday night the top-ranked Huskies played a half of basketball that coach Geno Auriemma would later describe as "lightning in a bottle," about as perfect as the mind could conjure, opening up a 43-point lead at halftime on the way to a 90-36 victory over Temple in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
And so the NCAA tournament for UConn, the defending national champion of women's basketball, began with 26 hard-earned trips to the free throw line and a chorus of boos from the 6,325 fans at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on Sunday afternoon.
Auriemma's overdog won the first-round game of the Dayton Regional, with No. 1-seeded UConn allowing just 10 second-half points in a 95-39 victory over No. 16 Southern University of Baton Rouge, La., adding a notch to its NCAA record 73-game winning streak.
The top-ranked Huskies (34-0) advanced to Tuesday's second-round game against No. 8 Temple (25-8). Temple, coached by former UConn assistant Tonya Cardoza, defeated No. 9 James Madison 65-53 in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader.
Kalana Greene had a message for anyone who might have the wrong idea about the UConn women's basketball team:
"People think we're a pretty, finesse team," Greene said. "But we can do a lot of little things. We're a team that can get down to the nitty gritty."
Such as Tuesday night in the Big East Conference tournament championship game.
Top-ranked and No. 1-seeded UConn used its lockdown mode on defense to rattle No. 2 West Virginia, holding the Mountaineers without a field goal for 11 minutes, 23 seconds of the second half before 10,040 fans at the XL Center.
UConn, which led by just five at one point in the second half, won 60-32, outscoring West Virginia 27-4 to end the game.
History, it turns out, follows the same unwritten script that has always made sports such a charming, alluring diversion.
And history happened Monday night at the XL Center, even if it arrived a bit unconventionally for the UConn women.
Some of the fans' emotional pendulums were swung wildly for a while, what with the UConn women's tenuous lead into the second half, until the Huskies resumed their role as the most reliable thing going in all of sports.
The Huskies won their 71st straight game, breaking their own record of 70 set from 2001-2003. They defeated plucky Notre Dame, 59-44, in the Big East Tournament semifinals and will play Tuesday night in the championship game.
So many games ago, so many years ago, the No. 70 had a different connotation for the UConn women's basketball team.
The last time, UConn limped to its NCAA record 70th straight win, down seven in the first half against Virginia Tech in the 2003 Big East Conference tournament and up two at halftime on the way to a 17-point victory, not knowing that its first loss in two seasons was right around the corner.
This win, the record-tying No. 70 that came Sunday at the XL Center in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, was nothing like that.
This one, instead, was the personification of dominance.
The final score was UConn 77, Syracuse 41, complete with a 34-point performance from UConn senior center Tina Charles. The Syracuse starters, meanwhile, did not manage a field goal in the first half, when the Huskies led 44-17.
Growing up, Geno Auriemma was a huge UCLA men's basketball fan.
"I would've sat on UCLA's bench for four years and not played a second rather than play anywhere else," Auriemma said Monday night at Notre Dame's Joyce Center, the same building where UCLA's record 88-game winning streak was once ended by the Fighting Irish.
Now that Auriemma is the coach of the UConn women's basketball team, however, he has a little streak of his own going.
The top-ranked Huskies, assuring that history did not repeat itself, won their 69th straight game on the floor of the sold-out Joyce Center, beating seventh-ranked Notre Dame 76-51 to complete their second straight unbeaten regular season.
Tina Charles wrote the latest chapter of the story of her career on Saturday before 15,733 fans on Senior Day at the XL Center, finishing with 33 points and 15 rebounds in top-ranked UConn's 84-62 victory over No. 13 Georgetown.
Three victories short of tying an NCAA record for consecutive victories, UConn coach Geno Auriemma has all but run out of things to say about his unstoppable Huskies.
Maya Moore had a season-high 38 points and a career-high 20 rebounds to help UConn beat Syracuse 87-66 on Wednesday night for its 67th straight victory.
They're arguably the best two college women's basketball players in the country and, even then, it's not a very good argument.
Tina Charles and Maya Moore combined for 47 points in top-ranked UConn's 85-53 victory over Providence in a Big East Conference game Saturday afternoon at the XL Center, then sat together in the postgame interview and grinned through about a dozen questions regarding their relationship on and off the court.
The lead went back and forth in the second half. Amanda Thompson scored for Oklahoma. Kalana Greene for UConn. Danielle Robinson for Oklahoma. Maya Moore for UConn.
In what was the most engaging atmosphere the UConn women's basketball team has played this season - Pack the Place Pink Night at the 12,000-seat Lloyd Noble Center - it was also one of the more engaging victories for the Huskies, who have rarely trailed on the way to 65 of them in a row.
Top-ranked UConn finally pulled away Monday night for a 76-60 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma, giving the Huskies five more wins to go to tie the NCAA record of 70.
The day started with Tina Charles brushing away tears and her four senior teammates far above the court in the rafters of Gampel Pavilion getting ready to unveil Charles' No. 31, which will now hang there for all time.
And that had nothing to do with the proclamation UConn coach Geno Auriemma made later Saturday about Charles, his team's star center.
"It was Tina 1 and St. John's 0," Auriemma said. "It couldn't come on a better day, I guess."
Charles, on the day she officially became a UConn all-timer, joining the distinguished "Huskies of Honor" - although her legend was firmly cemented by the time she was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player a year ago - finished with 25 points, a career-high 21 rebounds and three blocked shots to lift top-ranked UConn past No. 25 St. John's, 66-52.
Geno Auriemma insists UConn's latest winning streak is only part of what the talented Huskies are trying to accomplish.
"We didn't come out to play the streak or anything else. My kids have been loose, having fun and enjoying themselves. I don't think they concerned themselves with the streak," Auriemma said Wednesday night after the top-ranked Huskies routed DePaul 95-62 for their 63rd straight victory.
"I've already been down this road," said Auriemma, whose teams from 2001-2003 won 70 straight. "I try not to get involved in any of that stuff. I'm actually waiting for the loss. I told the team I don't care if we have one loss or 10 losses as long as it's not the last game of the year.
When Lorin Dixon is in the interview room for UConn, it usually means something good. There was the time last year, for instance, when she had 14 points and eight rebounds to fuel the Huskies in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle at North Carolina.
Then there was Sunday.
"She's a beast!" UConn senior Tina Charles shouted into the microphone, trumpeting Dixon, the team's reserve point guard.
This time, the 5-foot-4 Dixon finished with a career-high 10 rebounds as the top-ranked UConn women's basketball team won its 62nd consecutive game, 84-38, in a rematch of last year's national championship game against Louisville.
UConn beat No. 11 West Virginia 80-47 for its 61st straight victory, chasing its own record of 70 straight set from 2001-03, but not before West Virginia left an impression as perhaps the most physically imposing team the Huskies have faced this season.
FULL STORY & MORE PHOTOS:
Tina Charles wasn't quite so sure how to feel about her 2,000th career point on Saturday, until UConn coach Geno Auriemma gave his postgame talk to the top-ranked Huskies and told them how incredibly hard it was to do what Charles did.
Charles, UConn's 6-foot-4 senior center who needed 17 points to hit the 2,000-point mark heading into the game against Pittsburgh, finished with 24 points in the Huskies' 98-56 victory before 7,121 fans at the Petersen Events Center.
Tuesday marked UConn's next physical opponent: longtime Big East Conference rival Rutgers.
Maya Moore not only had 19 points in UConn's 73-36 victory over the Scarlet Knights before 12,347 fans at the XL Center, the Huskies' 59th straight win. She added 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
Geno Auriemma even has to wonder at times if No. 1 UConn is really as great as it has ever been or if the opposition is just that bad.
It was a little of both against inexperienced and overwhelmed Villanova.
Maya Moore scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help the Huskies thump Villanova 74-35 on Saturday for its 58th straight double-digit victory.
Maya Moore was talking about UConn's team defense Monday night when she shared coach Geno Auriemma's philosophy on the subject with a room full of media.
"'It's not about who's right. It's about gettin' it right,'" said Moore, a UConn junior.
That was a perfect illustration of the top-ranked Huskies' entire game plan, too, in an 81-48 victory over No. 6 Duke before a sweating, standing, shouting crowd of 9,314 "Cameron Crazies" at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
With a national television audience watching Saturday night, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he knew there were a good number of people rooting for the Huskies to lose — just because perfection can be kind of tiresome, perhaps.
"There's gonna be an awful lot of happy people," Auriemma said with a laugh this week, speaking of a potential UConn loss. "I can tell you their names if you want."
Auriemma might want to contact those people and tell them to wait. Indefinitely.
With a great deal of excitement surrounding UConn's campus Saturday as the Huskies were featured as part of the first-ever ESPN College GameDay for women's basketball, Auriemma's top-ranked UConn team dispatched No. 3 Notre Dame with the ease it's beaten everyone else this season, 70-46 in a game between two of the nation's four previously unbeaten teams.
UConn is only chasing itself.
Tina Charles scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the top-ranked Huskies to a 68-43 win over Marquette for their 55th straight victory Wednesday night to extend the second-longest winning streak in women's NCAA history.
UConn also holds the longest women's winning streak with 70 games set from 2001-03.
It's no coincidence UConn coach Geno Auriemma's autobiography is entitled "Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection."
That pursuit, on behalf of Auriemma and his players, is what leads to days like Saturday, where the game starts out as a highly anticipated matchup between the Nos. 1 and 7 teams in the country on national television and ends up as another ho-hum, 41-point UConn rout.
It's the reason, perhaps, that UConn's Maya Moore and Tina Charles, arguably the best two players in the country, come into the interview room after a game like Saturday's 88-47 blowout over No. 7 North Carolina and speak of playing better the next time.
Jamelle Elliott had dinner at the home of Geno and Kathy Auriemma the night before the game, at which point she informed her former boss, Geno, that her goal was to get him mad at his players for something and yank them out of the lineup.
"She got her goal," said Auriemma, the UConn coach, whose top-ranked team matched up with Elliott's Cincinnati team Thursday night in her first year as head coach.
In a game that started with Elliott, the former UConn player and assistant coach who contributed in some way to all six Huskies national championships, wiping tears from her eyes as she received a standing ovation from the fans at Gampel Pavilion, UConn finished by winning 83-51.
Tiffany Hayes talking about finding herself open cracked up UConn coach Geno Auriemma.
"Where she shoots from, why wouldn't you be open?" asked Auriemma of a few of the rainbow-esque 3-pointers Hayes takes from outside the 3-point arc. "… She just has this way about her.
"That's why, for all the 3s she was missing before, I didn't get worked up about it."
Hayes, UConn's sophomore who has been the top-ranked Huskies' part-time point guard to start the season, finished with 22 points in 28 minutes Monday night in UConn's 84-42 victory over South Florida in a Big East Conference game before 9,279 at the XL Center.
Geno Auriemma has a concern most coaches would love to have: trying to keep No. 1 UConn from winning by too many points.
His Huskies were at it again Saturday, routing Seton Hall 91-24 for their biggest margin of victory over a Big East opponent in seven years. UConn led by 40 at the half, and Auriemma pulled his starters early in the second half.
Tina Charles and UConn were too much for Florida State.
Charles scored 16 of her 24 points in the second half Monday night to lead the top-ranked Huskies to a 78-59 victory over 12th-ranked Florida State for their 50th straight win.
"Spectacular," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said about his 6-foot-4 senior center's strong finish.
"We had plenty of chances in the first half, but Tina just didn't make them (shots)," Auriemma said.
The scouting report on Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike, the Cardinal's sophomore forward and leading scorer, was to make her shoot jump shots, where she was supposedly not as comfortable as she was inside.
Then she started making her jump shots. All of them.
UConn trailed by two at halftime against Stanford, the team to which it last lost, at which point Ogwumike had 16 points, shooting 6-for-8.
But the Huskies changed the pace completely in the second half, going on to beat Stanford 80-68 before a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center - including UConn's 2000 national championship team, which was being honored - the first sellout in Hartford since the last time Tennessee came to town.
There was a sequence with 35.1 seconds remaining Sunday, believe it or not considering it was a 55-point blowout, that served as a perfect illustration of the day.
UConn's Meghan Gardler, a senior, inbounded the ball to Kaili McLaren, who hit a touch pass back to her. Gardler drove down the left baseline and made a layup, part of a 6-for-6 day for her, despite getting knocked to the ground and being unable to shoot the ensuing free throw.
Kelly Faris, a freshman, came in to shoot the free throw. Faris snuck in the game without the facemask designed to protect her broken nose, waved off the mask and promptly sunk the free throw.
At the end of the night, Jen Rizzotti poked her head into the interview room, where UConn coach Geno Auriemma was answering a question on the attendance at his team's women's basketball games this season.
Rizzotti, the Hartford coach and former UConn All-America point guard, smirked.
"Are you done yet? You won by 35 and you have that much to say?" Rizzotti said.
Replied Auriemma, referring to Rizzotti's technical foul during the game: "That ref's got a pizza waiting for you."
Top-ranked UConn beat Hartford 80-45 on Thursday night at the XL Center, a game that served as part UConn family reunion, part UConn defensive clinic and part measuring stick for the Huskies entering a 10-day exam break.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma called one of his team's practices earlier this week a "comedy of errors."
"Everybody that touched (the ball) did something stupid with it," Auriemma said. "They had a tough practice. Sometimes you gotta go through that stuff."
Then, a day later, the Huskies were practicing defense with only four players, with five on offense and Auriemma barking out commands.
Asked how she was that day, UConn All-American Maya Moore said only, "Better."
Better than what Maya?
"Better than yesterday," she said.
Those, apparently, are the things behind the scenes that make it look so easy for the top-ranked UConn women's basketball team once it's on the court, as the Huskies dispatched a hardnosed Vermont team 84-42 on Thursday night before 8,908 fans at Gampel Pavilion.
Kalana Greene was part wide receiver, part track star, part acrobat.
She stole the ball for the UConn women's basketball team on Sunday, she beat everyone else down the floor with it and she contorted herself to make shots in any way possible.
Greene, top-ranked UConn's elder statesman as a fifth-year senior, finished with a career-high 28 points in an 87-48 victory over Clemson in the final game of the WBCA Classic at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies (6-0) won three games in three days to capture the title, their 13th straight in-season tournament championship.
UConn isn't over losing All-American point guard Renee Montgomery to graduation just yet.
The top-ranked Huskies' women's basketball team is prone to a few turnovers now and again.
"It's a thing to work on," said sophomore guard Caroline Doty, who had five turnovers Saturday night. "We've been watching film. Without Renee, we know we have to work extra hard. Nothing really beats hustle."
And UConn can do that, hustle, very well.
The Huskies (5-0) rolled past Richmond 86-37, the second of three straight games in the WBCA Classic at Gampel Pavilion. UConn will meet Clemson (4-2) at 4:30 p.m. today in the finale.
UConn spends plenty of time in the spotlight. WNBA coach Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun was courtside Friday night at the DCU Center, he said, to see how different players react when there's not as much on the line and 50 or so points differential in the final margin.
There was no need to worry about that where the top-ranked Huskies are concerned.
UConn (3-0) employed a halfcourt trapping press in the first half, forced 25 Holy Cross turnovers and beat the Crusaders, 87-34, with players diving for loose balls from national player of the year Maya Moore to redshirt freshman Heather Buck.