We need a word that multiplies the impact of the word “juggernaut” to describe the UConn women’s basketball team. Last night, the Huskies won their 87th consecutive game with a 87-81 win over fourth-ranked Maryland. That puts the team only four wins away from breaking their previous win streak record of 90 games between 2008 and 2010, teams led by Maya Moore.
The Terps managed to give the Huskies a run for their money, though, holding them to close scoring margins, and coming back strongly after the Huskies took off with a 50-31 lead.
Here’s how Howard Megdal at the New York Times describes the team’s prospects for a historic streak:
Now, the dominant question is: Just when will Connecticut lose? Maryland represented the final hurdle in the Huskies’ schedule before their American Athletic Conference slate begins at Central Florida on Jan. 1. Among their next 12 opponents, only South Florida is ranked, and on their current path, the Huskies can tie their own N.C.A.A.-record 90-game winning streak against the Bulls and break it at Southern Methodist.
Sixth-ranked South Carolina is the only remaining opponent currently in the top 10 for the Huskies ahead of the N.C.A.A. tournament, when they could enter play holding onto a triple-digit win streak, unprecedented territory even for Connecticut.
At one point last night, leading scorer Katie Lou Samuelson, who was feeling ill, puked on the sideline then jumped right back into action. She wound up playing 39 minutes, ending 8-for-17 on field goals and sinking four three-pointers.
UConn, as you know, has been a de facto pipeline for some of the WNBA’s top talent. Coach Geno Auriemma has shepherded Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, and Breanna Stewart into national prominence since he took over at UConn in 1985.
Samuelson is now coming into prominence on her own. As a freshman last season, she broke her foot during the Final Four game against Oregon State, and couldn’t play in the National Championship game. Her sophomore year is off to a fierce start; she’s averaging 20.8 points per game in the first twelve games of the season.
That UConn stands a good chance of winning 100 games in a row is a great occasion for fans of the Huskies, but the issue of competitive balance in NCAA women’s basketball is hard to ignore. But what can you do about that, really? Recruits want to play for Auriemma, and who can blame them?