Connecticut 72, Georgetown 49
Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma has called it Diana Taurasi's streak for a reason.
Taurasi, the lone returning starter and only player on this year's team who played a significant role in last season's NCAA championship run, scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 72-49 victory over Georgetown this afternoon, and U-Conn. broke Louisiana Tech's NCAA Division I women's basketball record with its 55th consecutive victory.
"It does feel good, but hopefully we can just put it behind us now," said Taurasi, who has tried to play down the streak along with the rest of her teammates and the coaching staff. "To go out and win 55 straight games, you've got to have a certain mind-set mentally and not have any letdowns. That's hard to do, but we found a way to do it."
The capacity crowd of 16,294 began its standing ovation with 30 seconds left and started yelling "Fifty-Five," but after the game the Huskies' players and staff didn't react much differently than they had for any of the previous 54 wins. There was no wild celebration. When Auriemma headed to the locker room with a migraine headache, however, the players were given T-shirts and hats, several of which were tossed into the crowd.
Auriemma spoke briefly to the players but remained in the locker room with a heating pack on his neck.
"He just told us we did a good job, but it was basically business as usual," said Huskies sophomore center Jessica Moore, who had seven points and 12 rebounds.
In breaking Louisiana Tech's record of 54 consecutive wins set from 1980 to '82, the Huskies (16-0, 4-0 Big East) did not exactly rekindle memories of last year's championship team.
"We were probably a little uptight the last couple of games because of the streak," Taurasi added. "But for the most part, we tried not to think about it. We just tried to play Connecticut basketball, but obviously there was a little more pressure today."
U-Conn. took a commanding 20-5 lead midway through the first half but then went more than 10 minutes without a field goal. Finally, Taurasi found freshman Ann Strother for a three-pointer as time expired to end the half.
The Huskies, who shot a dismal 18 percent in the first half, led 29-13 at halftime, largely because they made 14 of 18 free throws and outrebounded the Hoyas, 33-17.
Georgetown (11-3, 2-2), which was off to its best start in more than a decade, cut the lead to 32-23 on a layup by Rebekkah Brunson before Taurasi responded with a three-pointer to push the lead back to double digits. The Huskies went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half, with six points coming from reserve forward Ashley Battle, to put the game out of reach. U-Conn. shot 58 percent in the second half.
"They aren't quite as quick as they've been in the past," Georgetown Coach Patrick Knapp said. "But they've got good size, and their guards really take away the passing lanes."
The last time U-Conn. lost was 659 days ago, a 90-75 setback to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the 2001 Final Four. Over the course of the streak, U-Conn.'s average margin of victory has been 31.9 points.
But the inexperienced Huskies will be tested over the next couple of weeks. They will play Monday at Notre Dame, which has handed U-Conn. two of its last three losses, and at top-ranked Duke on Feb. 1.
"We started out to do other things, bigger things," Taurasi said. "The streak wasn't our goal coming into the season. It just fell into our laps. We didn't even know about it until about two weeks ago. Realistically speaking, we'll probably lose at some point. It'll come to an end sometime, but hopefully not while I'm here."