Former Guard: UConn Women's Record Generates Hype

Host Scott Simon talks with Dwight Clay, the former guard for Notre Dame's basketball team who scored the shot to end UCLA's record-breaking winning streak.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

University of Connecticut's womens basketball teams win over Florida State this week marked UConn's 89th consecutive victory. And that's a new NCAA record. Had it not been for a guy named Dwight Clay, UConn might still be pursuing the record. Mr. Clay was the Notre Dame guard who ended the previous record of 88 straight wins by the UCLA men's basketball team when he hit a game-winning shot January 19, 1974.

Unidentified Announcer: Thirty-four, 33, 32, 31 - that's Clay, the guard!

(Soundbite of cheering)

SIMON: Dwight Clay joins us from the studios of KDKA in Pittsburgh.

Thanks for so much for being with us.

Mr. DWIGHT CLAY: Thanks so for having me.

SIMON: And bring us back to that night in 1974 if you could.

Mr. CLAY: Now, we were down 11 points - 70 to 59. And I guess it was about 3:25 on the clock. And there was a time out, and we were in a desperate mode. So we had to do something to change the tempo of the game. So we came out and applied much more pressure.

SIMON: Well, tell us about that last shot.

Mr. CLAY: Well, we had a two-man game set up for Gary Brokaw and John Shumate. Gary Brokaw was having some success against Jamaal Wilkes. And John Shumate was having a good inside game against Bill Walton. And the two guards would drift to the corners and clear out. But my man, Tommy Curtis, seen that Brokaw was still having some success against Jamaal Wilkes, and he started cheating -to help.

So I drifted to the corner and was waving my arms feverishly to Gary Brokaw to throw me the ball. And he spotted me and threw me the ball, and the rest is history.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Announcer: The number one ranked UCLA Bruins have been upset by the Irish of Notre Dame.

SIMON: How far away from the basket were you?

Mr. CLAY: Well, it would be a three-pointer in today's game.

SIMON: That's what it looked like, yeah. What do you think about UConn's 89-victory streak?

Mr. CLAY: Well, I think it's great. It's great for women's basketball and it's great for sports in general. Look at all the hype, you know, that it's generating.You know, you watch Tennessee and Stanford - I mean, sell-out crowds.

SIMON: Those are two great teams, too - Tennessee and Stanford.

Mr. CLAY: Tennessee played Baylor to a sold-out crowd. And that's all part of what Connecticut is generating - that type of excitement.

SIMON: Now, what do you say to people that say the record set by John Wooden and that great team, of 88 straight wins back in the '70s, is more solid than this streak by UConn because the level of competition in men's basketball at that time was just - it was just tougher. UCLA had to contend with Notre Dame, whereas UConn seems to be substantially above almost any other college team right now.

Mr. CLAY: Well, that's true. You have to separate the competition level. But you know, what Connecticut has done - you know, I don't believe you can separate that. Eight-eight games is 88 games. That's a hell of a treat.

SIMON: Well, Mr. Clay, it's been a pleasure.

Mr. CLAY: Oh, thank you for having me.

SIMON: Dwight Clay, the Notre Dame guard whose shot ended UCLA's winning streak in 1974.

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