The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team will lose eventually, but when? That’s the question that won’t go away now that the Huskies have broken the all-time NCAA record for both women’s and men’s teams with 89 straight wins, and have since added a 90th for good measure Tuesday against an overmatched University of the Pacific squad.
At this rate, UConn just might run the table for a third straight season. Another perfect campaign would again move the Huskies past the John Wooden-era UCLA men’s team that became the first team to win 88 straight games and post back-to-back perfect championship seasons between 1971 and 1974.
Still, the streak could conceivably end tonight when UConn goes up against ninth-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. (ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET). While the Cardinal have lost consecutive games to DePaul and Tennessee during a recent rough patch, they crushed fourth-ranked Xavier, 89-52, Tuesday night, a clear indication that they’ve raised their game a few notches. Then, too, this is the team that last April put a huge scare into UConn.
In the NCAA championship game, Stanford held UConn to a paltry 12 first-half points, the lowest output ever for the Huskies, who trailed 20-12 at the intermission. In the second half, however, UConn came to life and wound up winning, 53-47, successfully defending its national title and its seventh since 1995.
In the season opener on Nov. 16, the Huskies trailed Baylor by eight points with six minutes to play, but pulled out that game, 65-64, in Hartford, Conn.
Now, to keep their winning streak alive, the Huskies must beat Stanford, which is the last team to beat them (on April 6, 2008) and do it on the Cardinal’s on-campus home court, Maples Pavilion. The place will be rockin’.
Although each team’s roster has changed considerably since then, the coaches have not. UConn’s Geno Auriemma will be looking to win his 750th career game as a head coach (all at UConn), while Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, who has spent 25 of her 32 years as a head coach at Stanford, goes after career win No. 802.
Waiting for the tipoff is an ideal time to plunge into UConn’s online media guide, with its blizzard of statistics, honors, and other facts.
Here are a randomly selected group of 10 info-bites about the nation’s leading women’s basketball program:
1. UConn has appeared in seven NCAA championship games and won all seven.
2. The current 11-player roster illustrates the team’s nationwide recruiting appeal. The following states are represented with one player each: Connecticut, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana. The only state with more than one player, New York, has three on the roster.
3. When Geno Auriemma took over the program 25 years ago, UConn had had only one winning season in its first 11 years as a varsity sport. His first team went 12-15 (4-12 in the Big East), but since then it’s been nothing but winning seasons.
4. Every recruited freshman who has completed her athletic eligibility playing for Auriemma has graduated.
5. The UConn women are only the third team in NCAA history to win three consecutive titles (joining the Tennessee Lady Vols, who did it between 1996 and 1998, and the UCLA men, who rang up seven straight between 1967 and 1973). The Huskies three-peat occurred in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
7. During the 2009-09 season, UConn became the first perfect-record team in either women’s or men’s basketball to ever beat each opponent by at least 10 points.
8. The highest scoring average ever posted by a UConn player is 18.7 points per game, which is Maya Moore’s current average.
9. Auriemma was never a college head coach before getting the job in Storrs, Conn. He previously held assistant positions with the women’s teams at the University of Virginia and St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. Before that he was the boy’s head basketball coach at his high school alma mater, Bishop Kenrick in Norristown, Pa.