BIG EAST women’s basketball teams went 4-2 on Tuesday night, but the focus of the evening was No. 1/1 UConn’s historic 89th consecutive win. The Huskies (11-0) topped No. 22/20 Florida State 93-62 before a nationally televised, sold out crowd at the XL Center.
Senior Maya Moore had a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds and freshman Bria Hartley added 21 points for the Huskies, who have not lost since April 6, 2008, in the NCAA Championship semifinals.
“They’re all a part of it,” said head coach Geno Auriemma referring to all the players who have contributed to the win streak over the years. “I’m constantly amazed by these kids and what they’re able to do, under the circumstances they’re put in.”
Auriemma continued, “but certainly, Maya (Moore) during all these 89 games has been at her absolute best when it was absolutely needed and I’ll always remember that and I’ll always admire her for that, cause that’s not easy to do. I don’t care what the situation is, that’s not easy to do.”
There was a festive atmosphere throughout the city and the game, where building lights gleamed blue and white; it was as electric as any Final Four inside the arena. Former standout Tina Charles and UConn men’s star Kemba Walker sat behind the Huskies’ bench, while football coach Randy Edsall was perched in the stands. Meanwhile former NFL star Warrick Dunn was cheering for his alma mater, Florida State. At one point in the second half, the wave rippled around the arena.
During his postgame news conference, Auriemma took a congratulatory phone call from President Barack Obama.
“Mr. President, I really appreciate that. It’s an incredible thing that these kids have done and we owe you a little bit of gratitude. That lesson you gave on the White House basketball court really paid off. I appreciate you doing that for them,” Auriemma said. “We have not lost since you have been inaugurated and how ‘bout we keep that streak going for a couple of more years, huh?”
In closing, Auriemma, referring to legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, said the one common area across the decades — and the gender lines, too — is the drive to compete, succeed and the journey it takes to get there. How these kids do (these significant things) should be appreciated and admired for what they’ve done and how hard it is to do it.
Other action around the league saw No. 6/7 West Virginia, which is holding its highest AP ranking in school history, downed North Carolina Central 71-39. The Mountaineers (12-0) held their opponent to just 10 field goals, including just four in the first half. Five WVU players scored in double figures, including senior guard Liz Repella.
“We are 12-0 for the first time in school history,” Carey said. “They have a lot to be proud of, but need to realize that they have a lot of work coming up in BIG EAST play.”
The Mountaineers survived a season-high 22 turnovers, winning by at least 30 points for the sixth time this season. They led 38-20 at halftime.
Marquette (10-2) beat Illinois 73-56 before a sellout crowd of 3,812 on Milwaukee Public School Day. Over 3,000 Milwaukee Public School students representing 25 schools were in attendance. The game served as an educational field trip for elementary and middle school students enrolled in the Milwaukee Public School System.
Marquette had four players score in double figures led by senior Tatiyiana McMorris with 15. Sophomore Sarina Simmons added 14 points and a team-high six rebounds, while senior Angel Robinson scored 12 points and dished out a game-high eight assists and senior Jasmine Collins chipped in 11 points.
The announced crowd of 3,812 was the largest of the season and the fourth largest crowd in Al McGuire Center history.
Cincinnati beat Marshall 57-47. TheBearcats (6-4) were led by freshman Kayla Cook’s career-high 15 points. Cook added a team-high seven rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals, while playing the entire 40 minutes for the second time during her freshman campaign.
Syracuse (8-1) lost to No. 2/2 Baylor 77-43 in the SunSplash tournament held in the Bahamas. Baylor freshman Odyssey Sims scored a career-high 25 points and sophomore Brittney Griner added 15.
Griner had eight blocks for the Bears, but Sims was the star.
“Odyssey can shoot the basketball,” BU head coach Kim Mulkey said.
“She got a lot of looks, particularly on ball reversal. She’s just a confident kid. When you see a 2-3 zone like that, they’re jamming the paint a little bit, you’re going to have to make those shots.”
Junior Iasia Hemingway led the Orange with 10 points. Syracuse lost for the first time in 30 regular season nonconference games.
“They have a lot of balance,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman commented. “In the first half we really wanted to pack the paint in and one of their shooters had 22 points, in the second half we moved out and they scored in the paint.”
No. 16/18 DePaul suffered its second loss of the year 79-66 at Arizona State. DePaul (13-2) had won 10 straight games and was coming off an impressive victory over then-No. 3/2 Stanford. The pesky Sun Devils (8-2) had already faced two Top 25 teams this season and didn’t back down against the Blue Demons, dominating the second half for their fifth straight win.
Senior Felicia Chester had 16 points and junior Keisha Hampton added 14 for the Blue Demons. The teams were tied 33-33 at the half.
Arizona State hit 16-of-31 shots in the second half and hounded DePaul into 10-of-26 shooting, 0-of-5 from 3-point range. Both DePaul losses (Nov. 21 at Purdue, 67-58) have come on the road. The Blue Demons also missed a season-high 14 free throws, connecting on just 18-of-32 attempts.