The University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball team hasn’t lost a game since November…2014. Their win streak, which reached 107 games on March 7, is unprecedented, upending the NCAA record that the school had earlier set of 90 wins, which surpassed the UCLA Men’s record established from 1971 to 1974. And were it not for their loss against Stanford in overtime, the Huskies’ current record would be an unbelievable 148 games. The Huskies have also won four straight championships and will likely win their fifth-consecutive championship this year. Sports commentator Christine Brennan, in an interview with NPR, highlights the incredible accomplishments of the school and its coach, Geno Auriemma. She says that we are witnessing “the greatest system in the history of Women’s Basketball, and one of the great systems in the history of sports, Men’s or Women’s, period.”
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma is one of the major forces behind UConn’s great success, and this seems to be as much because of his character as his knowledge of the game. The New York Times reports that “only once had Auriemma’s program come this close to 100—a home-court winning streak that stood at 99 when an upstart St. John’s team won at Gampel in February 2012, before Connecticut’s departure from what was then a highly-competitive Big East Conference.” That loss for the Huskies was staggering in part because of how close the game was: in the final seconds of the game, St. John’s was trailing by two points, and then Shenneika Smith sank the game-winning shot. But something really special occurred that night: on the bus ride home, the coach of St. John’s team, Kim Barnes Arico, answered her cell phone to hear Geno Auriemma calling to congratulate her. Another peek at Auriemma’s character comes from a statement he gave back in 2010, in reflecting on his mentor John Wooden and his team: “The one thing we have in common is we settle for nothing less than the absolute best we can give you every single night, every single day….They [Wooden’s record-setting team] did it, and we’re doing it. Everything else to me is meaningless.
The most notable game so far in this winning streak occurred on Feb. 13: UConn matched up against the formidable South Carolina and secured their 100th win with a final score of 66-55. Columnist Scott Polacek, writing for the Bleacher Report, notes that South Carolina was only down by six points at the half. He highlights the role that UConn players Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier played in cementing the lead and securing the victory, writing: “Gabby Williams proved too much. She poured in 26 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out four assists and tallied four steals in a stat-sheet stuffing effort. Napheesa Collier added 18 points and nine boards in the win.” Polacek ends his column speculating about the future: “With no formidable opponent left on the conference schedule, and victories over many of the top-ranked teams already recorded, an inquiring mind wants to wonder whether the Huskies might in a couple of years be on the doorstep of 200.”
Regardless of what happens next, the significance of the University of Connecticut’s achievements cannot be unstated. Within the world of college sports, this kind of sustained performance is beyond comparison. For athletes everywhere, and especially female athletes, this record-shattering team is an inspiration.
Sources: Bleacher Report, Forbes, The New York Times, NPR