By Lian Hoffman
What is one word that comes to your mind when you hear “basketball?” It could bring you back to your childhood, high school, even recent memories, but because of recent events and even the last few years you’d hear something New Englanders and people around the country are all too familiar with: UCONN.
Both UCONN men’s and women’s basketball programs have been able to put Storrs, Connecticut on the map, proving themselves to be the program to beat. Back in 2004, they had made history being the first university to claim the NCAA Division 1 National Championship for men’s and women’s basketball. Then, in 2014, they were able to recreate that same sense of pride and accomplishment bringing both trophies back to UCONN. After accomplishing this feat twice, it is safe to say that UCONN is the college basketball capital of the word. Since then, the men have not seen the same kind of success the women have continually achieved.
Coming into the game against South Carolina on February 13th, the UCONN women knew what had to be done. They had already beaten the longest winning streak earlier this year and were looking for something that has not been achieved. Ranked six in the nation, South Carolina was a team that would challenge the Huskies, with their style of play and their height; 8 of their 13 women roster being six feet or taller. The Gamecocks started the game with a poised way of playing; their defense was pressuring UCONN, and they were able to stay calm in the hostile environment of a sold out Gampel Pavilion. By the first time-out, UCONN was only up by two with a score of 10 – 8. By the end of the first quarter, it was 19 – 16 UCONN. South Carolina’s control continued into the second half, causing Katie Lou Samuelson to be held to one-in-nine in shots. The game itself was close, especially considering what the UCONN women were used to. By the third half, UCONN was up 51 – 39. The fourth quarter was where UCONN was able to pull away, causing USC to show obvious frustration. In the end, the Huskies were able to pull off a 66 – 55 win. Gabby Williams led the team with a double double; 26 points and 14 rebounds, followed by Napheesa Collier with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Clearly, 100 straight wins is no small feat. There is a reason why it has not been done before. Coach Auriemma has been able to create a dynasty by being able to get the best recruits in the country to come to UCONN and then coaching them to become some of the top players in the United States. Getting to 100 wins is one thing, but how UCONN got there was done one impressive game at a time. Their last loss was 820 days ago in 2014, when they lost against Stanford in overtime. The average score during the streak was UCONN 87.9 – 49.5. 83 of the past 100 wins have been won by at least 20 points.
Since February 13th, the streak has continued even though it almost ended five days later. The Huskies headed down to New Orleans to play Tulane, whom they had beaten 100 – 56 earlier in the season. The score was 28 – 18 by the half, a bit closer than what they are used to seeing. By the third quarter they were up by 13. By the fourth, they were up by 10. Tulane continued to fight until the end of the game, with a final score of 63 – 60, the second lowest winning margin since their game against Florida State in the beginning of the season, a win by only two points.
The biggest question in people’s minds is: when is this domination going to end? UCONN has proven to be the best in college basketball history, but is there a point where another team can become the team to beat? There may be, but not just yet. As UCONN’s success continues, their recruits continue to get better and better. For the 2017 – 2018 school year, the number one recruit in the U.S., along with two other top 40 recruits will be coming to Storrs. While there must be a time where the dynasty falls, it doesn’t look like it is coming anytime soon.
As of February 25th, the streak has improved to 103.