Eight BIG EAST women’s basketball teams were in action on Sunday, including No. 1/1 Connecticut which extended its historic win streak to 88 games, following an 81-50 victory over No. 11/10 Ohio State. With the win UConn (10-1) tied the Division I record for most consecutive victories in the sport, equaling a mark set by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s teams from 1971-74.
UConn junior Tiffany Hayes scored a game-high 26 points, while senior Maya Moore added 22. The Huskies shook off a slow start in the opening minutes and held a 40-26 lead at halftime. Connecticut cruised over the final 20 minutes.
“Because we’re breaking a men’s record, we’ve got a lot of people paying attention,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “If we were breaking a women’s record, everybody would go, ‘Aren’t those girls nice, let’s give them two paragraphs in USA Today, you know, give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let’s send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.”
The game was held at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic in New York. Connecticut matched the Bruins’ mark before a crowd of 15,232 — the second-biggest for a women’s game at Madison Square Garden. The largest Garden crowd for a women’s game was 15,735 set on Jan. 3 1999 between Tennessee and Rutgers.
This was the fifth annual Maggie Dixon Classic honoring the former Army women’s basketball coach, who died on April 6, 2006, of arrhythmia, likely caused by an enlarged heart.
Pittsburgh men’s coach Jamie Dixon, Maggie’s brother, said he had no idea that when the Huskies committed to the event they would be going for the milestone win.
“Maybe Maggie was looking down on us and figured it out on her own so we could get the Garden filled up for a women’s college basketball game,” said Dixon, who sat with his family just a few rows up at midcourt.
In the first game of the Garden doubleheader, Rutgers (7-5) lost to Texas A&M 79-50. The Scarlet Knight struggled offensively shooting only 26.5 percent from the field with just five field goals in the first half. Sophomore guard Erica Wheeler scored 13 points to lead the Scarlet Knights. TAMU senior Danielle Adams had a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
No. 18/18 St. John’s (11-1) pulled out a 56-47 win over UC-Santa Barbara 56-47 and claimed the St. John’s Chartwells Holiday Classic. Sophomore guard Shenneika Smith scored a game-high 15 points and earned the Eleanor Taffner Tournament MVP award.
Senior Sky Lindsay and sophomore Eugenia McPherson also were selected to the all-tournament team. Junior Da’Shena Stevens did not play after suffering a mild concussion in Saturday’s game. St. John’s battled injuries all weekend.
“I can’t say how proud I am of the young ladies with what we went through the last 24 hours,” Red Storm coach Kim Barnes Arico said after St. John’s 10th straight win. “We were the walking wounded.”
Lindsay, Nadirah McKenith, and Centhya Hart also were hurt the night before. Now, they have some time off to heal.
We don’t play again for nine days,” Barnes Arico said. “That adds up to 68,000 minutes. I told them they could have 68,000 minutes of rest.”
No. 20/19 Georgetown (9-3) beat Missouri State 72-59 at home. Sophomore Sugar Rodgers scored a game-high 20 points in 26 minutes to lead the Hoyas. Rodgers scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half.
Villanova (5-6) lost to Temple 55-43 at home. The Wildcats trailed 19-11 at halftime and were just 4-of-16 from 3-point range for the game.
Three more BIG EAST teams are playing in Las Vegas holiday tournaments.
USF (9-4) won its fourth in a row, following a 61-55 victory over Southern Methodist at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus on UNLV. Junior Andrell Smith had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who wrap up the three-day Basketball Travellers Classic against No. 23/RV Texas on Monday night.
Louisville (8-5) lost to Houston (8-1) in the second day of the Duel in the Desert held at Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV. Junior Monique Reid led three Cardinals in double figures with 27 points. The junior recorded her first double-double of the season, grabbing 10 rebounds. Freshman Shoni Schimmel added 23 points.
Reid became a 1,000 point scorer after scoring her 18th point of the night. She becomes the 21st Cardinal to score 1,000 points and the fifth player to reach that milestone in her junior year. Reid finished the night with 1,009 career points.
The Cardinals will wrap up play at the Duel in the Desert Classic on Monday as they face Nebraska at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Pittsburgh (5-5) lost to Texas Tech (10-1) by the score of 78-65 in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at the South Point Arena. Senior Jania Sims scored a game-high 26 points, but could not corral the Red Raiders who shot 46.2 percent from the field. Pitt led 38-35 at halftime, but was just 9-of-29 over the final 20 minutes.
"I thought we played one of best first halves and couldn't sustain in the second half. Jania (Sims) tried to take the team on her back and lead us," said Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato. "We got hit with foul trouble and it changed the game plan. We have to bounce back and rebound tomorrow against UT-Arlington."
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.