Connecticut forward Maya Moore drives for a layup in front of Florida State forward Natasha Howard. In Tuesday's win, Moore had a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds.
Connecticut forward Maya Moore drives for a layup in front of Florida State forward Natasha Howard. In Tuesday's win, Moore had a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds. Jessica Hill/AP
One of the biggest streaks in sports now belongs to the UConn women's basketball team.
The No. 1-ranked Huskies women's basketball team topped the 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden's UCLA men's team from 1971-74, beating No. 22 Florida State 93-62 on Tuesday night.
Playing with the relentlessness that has become its trademark and would have made Wooden proud Connecticut blew past the Seminoles as it has so many other teams in the last 2 1/2 years.
"I don't want my team to compare themselves to anyone,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said afterward. "I'm not John Wooden and this isn't UCLA. This is Connecticut and that's good enough.''
Maya Moore had a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds and freshman Bria Hartley added 21 points for the Huskies, who have not lost since April 6, 2008, in the NCAA tournament semifinals.
Only twice during the record run has a team come within single digits of UConn — Stanford in the NCAA championship game last season and Baylor in early November.
When the final buzzer sounded, UConn players sprinted across the floor to shake hands with the student section as fans held up signs with "89" and the Huskies logo on them. Two other fans raised a banner that read "The Sorcerer of Storrs,'' and big, blue "89'' balloons bobbed in the stands behind center court.
After a brief huddle in front of their bench, UConn players re-emerged wearing "89 and Counting'' T-shirts. As fans roared, the players bounced around at center court before posing for photos.
It is one more chapter of history for UConn, and perhaps the grandest.
"It's pretty amazing. It really is,'' said Auriemma, at a rare loss for words. "I'll probably remember Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes,'' he said, referring to his experienced stars. "And how incredibly difficult it is to play that many games in row and win 'em all.''
Connecticut long ago established itself as the marquee program in the women's game, the benchmark by which all others are measured. The Huskies already own seven national titles and four perfect seasons under Auriemma, and they've produced a galaxy of stars that includes Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, Jennifer Rizzotti, Sue Bird and Tina Charles.
The streak, though, takes it to another level, certainly raising the profile of women's basketball and maybe all of women's athletics.
Two days after beating No. 11 Ohio State to tie UCLA, UConn toppled the mark in front of a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center that included Wooden's grandson, Greg, attending his first women's game.
"He would have been absolutely thrilled to see his streak broken by a women's basketball team,'' the 47-year-old Wooden said of his grandfather, who died in June at age 99. "He thought, especially in the last 10 years, that the best basketball was played at the collegiate level — and it wasn't by the men.''