The University of Connecticut’s Lady Huskies keep it eight more than 92…100 with its latest historic victory, a 66-55 win over South Carolina.
With a sold out crowd at Storrs, Connecticut’s famed Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, and legendary Lady Huskies including Breanna Stewart, Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Tina Charles, and many others in the stands cheering on their squad, Dawn Stanley coached her No. 6 South Carolina Lady Gamecocks to a competitive loss. On the journey to 100, with its last loss dating back to November 17, 2014, Connecticut notched its 98th double-digit win, though well below its average margin of victory of 38 points.
As the wins continued to pile up for Geno Auriemma’s women’s college basketball team, and they broke their own 90-game win streak, fans not so quietly began to wonder if his latest group of players would indeed achieve the greatest milestone in NCAA basketball history; win 100 consecutive games. For any other program, the thought would be considered foolish and unfathomable. How could any team maintain that kind of momentum? What about injury and fatigue? Pressure? Or, the contagious behavior of turnovers, poor shooting, or lax defense which are all known to rot teams from the inside out? Also, how would they replace the historic trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck? Surely, a rebuild of such magnitude would cause the Lady Huskies to struggle; and more importantly, swallow a loss or two, here and there. But none of this would affect Auriemma’s team en route to 100. In fact, none of this ever affects Auriemma’s dominant dynasty of teams. Sophomore’s Kia Nurse (12.8 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Napheesa Collier (19.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg) , along side juniors Katie Lou Samuelson (20.8 ppg) and Gabby Williams (13.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 5.3 apg) stepped up to the challenge and delivered the same winning characteristics as each of Auriemma’s NCAA championship teams have done throughout his Hall of Fame career.
And this wasn’t an easy victory. The (21-3) Lady Gamecocks were worthy opponents as they held (25-0) UConn’s top scorer, Samuelson, to an uncharacteristically low 6 points on 2-of-12 shooting; and forced Collier into early foul trouble. South Carolina remained competitive deep into the 4th quarter, led by A’ja Wilson’s 17 points. But in the end, it was Connecticut’s unrivaled discipline, defensive prowess, resolute mindset, and offensive hustle by Williams (career-high 26 points, 18 rebounds) that ultimately prevailed.
Recognize, John Wooden’s UCLA teams never accomplished 100 consecutive victories; though 88 is also an amazing feat. Phil Jackson’s three-peat Chicago Bulls nor his three-peat Los Angeles Lakers achieved the unthinkable. And despite Steve Kerr’s impressive 73-win season, it doesn’t measure up to what Auriemma’s teams have accomplished during his reign — 11 NCAAW championship titles, 4 consecutive NCAAW championship titles, and now a 100-game win streak.