COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sure, winning 111 games in a row is impressive. But when the UConn womenâ€™s basketball team takes the Gampel Pavilion floor for Fridayâ€™s home opener against California-Berkeley, another impressive run will be eight-time longer than the NCAA record winning streak and has lasted more than the current Huskiesâ€™ lifetimes.
Top-ranked UConnâ€™s 78-53 victory over No. 10 Stanford Sunday at the Countdown to Columbus at Nationwide Arena allowed it to push its streak of not losing back-to-back games to 887. The Huskies have not dropped consecutive outings since losing the final three of the 1992-93 season. The oldest Huskies - transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara, along with senior Kia Nurse - were not born until February 1996. They are 58-0 following a loss since the start of the 1993-94 season.
â€śI donâ€™t have the answer to some of this stuff why we do what we do, why things that have happened happen,â€ť UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. â€śWe try to show up and play. It was a long time ago, that last game. But even when we lose during the season and we have a game coming up weâ€™re pretty good at putting that last game behind us and moving on to the next thing. We try not to carry anything with us. Thatâ€™s a big part of it. We have guys who like to win. And when we lose, they donâ€™t take it very well.â€ť
Itâ€™s the eighth time UConn has beaten a ranked team to keep its back-to-back streak alive and the fourth time itâ€™s beaten a team in the Top 10. The highest-ranked team the Huskies got past coming off a loss was No. 4 Duke in the 1998-99 opener in San Jose, California. They also beat No. 7 Notre Dame in South Bend on Jan. 12, 2005, and No. 7 Rutgers at the XL Center in Hartford on Feb. 3, 2005.
The closest game following a loss was a one-point win at Rutgers on Jan. 27, 1999, though South Florida took UConn to overtime on Dec. 1, 2004, with the streak on the line. The Huskies scored all 10 points of the extra session to beat the Bulls at Gampel Pavilion.
â€śTheyâ€™ve had losses and everything, but Coach and CD (associate head coach Chris Dailey) have done a good job of creating a program where we bounce back and weâ€™re not going to let a loss define whatâ€™s next,â€ť UConn All-American Katie Lou Samuelson said. â€śWeâ€™ll learn from it and move on quickly.â€ť
As UConnâ€™s Katie Lou Samuelson made her way through the postgame handshake line, Stanford Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer - who coached Samuelsonâ€™s older sisters Bonnie and Karlie and recruited Katie Lou - had a brief conversation with the All-American.
â€śShe asked if my family was here and just said hi,â€ť Samuelson said. â€śShe asked if Karlie was doing OK.â€ť
Karlie Samuelson, who helped the Cardinal to the 2017 Final Four, has just started her professional career playing in Italy. Bonnie Samuelson, a 2015 graduate, is in school in California studying to be an optometrist. The Samuelsonsâ€™ father, Jon, was here but mother, Karen, was flying home to California after visiting Karlie in Italy.
Katie Lou, who had 21 points Sunday, made an official visit to Stanford the weekend before announcing her commitment to UConn in May 2014. She signed her letter of intent five days before the last meeting between the schools, an 88-86 Stanford overtime win on Nov. 17, 2014. But it took until Sunday for the teams to meet again as the Cardinal opted not to extend the series with the Huskies.
â€śIt was different,â€ť Samuelson said. â€śIâ€™m definitely bummed I didnâ€™t get the opportunity to play against Karlie. But it was fun and we were all kind of playing for Kia and Gabby (Williams). They were the only two that were on the team that lost that year.â€ť
Samuelson was confident her older sisters would root for her against their alma mater. Said Bonnie on Twitter: â€śOf course! Never take sides against the family.â€ť