Connecticuit's Maya Moore drives past Stanford's Kayla Pedersen during the first half of an NCAA women's college basketball game in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
Dec. 23, 2009
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- UConn turned its showdown with No. 2 Stanford into another rout.
Still, the top-ranked Huskies considered it just another win.
"We're 10-0 and beat a really good team," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "But we get no trophies, no rings, no nothing. Hopefully we get a chance to play them again in the Final Four."
The Huskies (10-0) won their first nine games this season by at least 25 points and an average of 46. UConn hadn't faced a team the caliber of the Cardinal, who the Huskies beat last season in the national semifinals en route to a perfect 39-0 record and sixth NCAA title.
The Cardinal (9-1) proved to be no match as UConn extended the third-longest winning streak in women's basketball history. UConn won 70 straight from 2001-03 and Louisiana Tech had a 54-game streak from 1980-82.
"They are definitely head and shoulders above us and play at a different pace," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I'm proud of our team. We've had a really tough stretch. We can learn a lot from this game. We'll benefit from it. For us call it a little `w."'
Stanford, which beat then-No. 7 Duke and third-ranked Tennessee last week, was the last team to beat UConn, topping the Huskies in the 2008 Final Four.
It was the 44th meeting of the top two teams in the poll: No. 1 leads 25-19. UConn has been involved in 13 of those games, going 11-2--including an 8-1 mark as the No. 1 team. Auriemma attributes the success to UConn treating it like any other game.
"You're playing at Connecticut, it's why you came here," Auriemma said. "It's not the game of the century. It's a game on a Wednesday and we treat it like that and I think it helps us."
Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 20 points and Kayla Pedersen added 14 for the Cardinal.
UConn trailed 44-42 early in the second half before going on a 30-6 run over the next 11 minutes. Greene started the spurt with a layup and Moore's 3-pointer with 15:01 gave UConn a 49-44 lead. The Huskies had made just one of their first 14 3s before then.
JJ Hones answered with a 3-pointer to bring the Cardinal back within two, but UConn then rattled off 10 straight points-- including five by Charles to take a 12-point lead and bring the first sellout crowd at the XL Center for the UConn women since they played Tennessee on Jan. 6, 2007, to its feet.
Ogwumike finally ended a 3 1/2 -minute drought with a layup. UConn scored the next six points on layups to make it 65-49 with 9:30 left. Hayes' layup with 5:51 left gave UConn a 22-point lead.
Stanford would only get within 12 the rest of the game.
"It's just a mindset we have," Moore said. "We're always wanting to keep our foot on the gas pedal. Get a run. You got to stay focused, and can't get complacent. Last four minutes of the game we relaxed a little bit. We have to finish a whole half, whole game with the same energy level."
The first 20 minutes was an offensive showcase. UConn led 19-10 early before Stanford went on a 15-2 run capped by Pedersen's jumper that made it 25-21 midway through the first half. Pedersen and Ogwumike had 11 of the Cardinal's 15 points during the spurt. It was the biggest deficit UConn faced all season. The Huskies had only trailed for a total of 2:38 in their first nine games.
The teams traded baskets the rest of the half and Stanford led 40-38 at the break. It was the first time UConn found itself down at halftime since the 2008 loss to the Cardinal.
Ogwumike had 16 points and Pedersen 12 as Stanford shot 57 percent from the field in the half. The Cardinal finished at 46 percent for the game and were outrebounded 43-29.
"They came out and were more aggressive," Ogwumike said of the second half. "What it felt like for me is we were slow to react to what was going on."
At 5-5, Stanford is one of the rare teams to have success against UConn since Auriemma took over the program in 1985. Wednesday was the Cardinal's first regular-season trip to Connecticut since Jan. 20, 1993--and only second all-time. Connecticut will go to Stanford next season.
Stanford can take some solace from the game as they also lost to UConn by 12 points in Nov. 2007, before beating the Huskies in the Final Four that season.
"This is a good benchmark for us to see where we stand against the No. 1 team in the nation," Jayne Appel said. "We'll use it as motivation but we have a lot of games before we can say we're going back to the Final Four."
Connecticut honored the 1999-2000 championship team at halftime. That team, led by Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Svetlana Abrosimova, won the second of UConn's national championships.