POSTED: 06:58 p.m. HST, Dec 30, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. — Top-ranked Connecticut's record 90-game winning streak is over.
The Huskies never led and were beaten by No. 9 Stanford 71-59 on Thursday night, ending a remarkable run that drew national attention and acclaim to women's basketball.
Stanford was the last school to beat coach Geno Auriemma's team, in the 2008 NCAA semifinals.
Jeanette Pohlen hit five 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 31 points and the Cardinal (9-2) had the Huskies' number at last — a huge number at that. Stanford won its 52nd straight at Maples Pavilion in a rematch of last season's NCAA title game won 53-47 by two-time defending national champion UConn.
"I thought we let it get away from us," Auriemma said. "I think the atmosphere and what was going on and when Maya (Moore) couldn't get going early. I think it affected the rest of our guys. We just didn't play like ourselves. Give credit to Stanford. I think they played an unbelievably good game."
Last week, the Huskies (12-1) topped the 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden's UCLA men's team from 1971-74 by beating No. 22 Florida State 93-62, then won their 90th in a row this week at Pacific.
"When you see what happens tonight and how it happened, I think you can appreciate it even more what it took to get to that point and how many things can go wrong and how you can have bad nights," Auriemma said.
He said such a winning streak requires good players, luck and "that all your best players have to play great every night.
And we didn't get that tonight."
Huskies star Maya Moore was held to 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting. UConn hadn't lost since an 82-73 defeat to Stanford on April 6, 2008, in the Final Four at Tampa, Fla.
Pohlen sealed it with six free throws in the final 42.5 seconds. She shot 8-for-15 overall and had nine rebounds and six assists. Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 12 points and six rebounds and Kayla Pedersen 11 rebounds for an inspired Stanford squad that held a 43-36 advantage on the boards.
Moore's 3-pointer with 10:50 left cut Stanford's lead to 48-44, then Pedersen answered moments later on the other end. Moore tried to will her team back late, scoring eight straight during one stretch. But she missed the front end of a one-and-one off the rim with 1:42 left that could have made it a four-point game.
Kelly Faris scored 19 points and Bria Hartley 14 for the Huskies, who never found their usual dominant form while playing in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 7,329-plus for this highly anticipated, nationally televised showdown between the top programs from either coast.
Former players from both schools were in the stands: Jayne Appel, Candice Wiggins, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and JJ Hones of Stanford sitting together on one baseline, and ex-UConn stars Alana Beard and Tina Charles. Ruthie Bolton, a member of VanDerveer's gold medal winning 1996 Olympic team in Atlanta, also attended as did former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
UConn was headed home from the Bay Area on what certainly would be an extra-long redeye flight out of San Francisco. The team just beat the big East Coast blizzard to get here, leaving at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. UConn played at Maples for the first time since Dec. 28, 1993, and Stanford has won all three meetings in the rivalry on its home floor.
"I'm just happy for our team," Stanford doach Tara VanDerveer said. "The streak is something that they did. We're about Stanford and what we want to do."
For the Cardinal, this was a long time coming. VanDerveer, who joined the elite 800-win club last week, thought about that championship loss for months and felt her team missed a big opportunity, saying it fueled her to be a better coach and did the same for her players. Stanford hasn't won it all since 1992 despite making the last three Final Fours.
Stanford led at halftime for the third straight time facing UConn, having blown a 20-12 edge at the break in the title game last April.
Moore missed her initial four shots and didn't score her first points until knocking down a 3 at with 3:14 left in the opening half. The two-time national player of the year came in averaging 24.8 points and received a rousing ovation from the Stanford crowd when starting lineups were introduced, though Auriemma was booed.
It was Pohlen, not Moore, who was by far the dominant player on the floor.
"I just had that mentality. I'm not giving up until that buzzer goes off," Pohlen said. "I think our team was really looking for me to get my shot. I'm just happy that we defended Maples. We got the win, and our team played awesome."
The Cardinal haven't lost at home since a 68-61 upset by Florida State in the second round of the NCAA tournament in March 2007.
Stanford made 9 of its first 13 shots and four of five 3s and used an 11-0 run to go ahead 17-4.
UConn started 2 for 12 and missed its first five 3-point tries while also committing three turnovers in the opening 6:31 to fall behind 17-4. Hayes' 3 at 13:10 was UConn's first.
Hartley then scored seven during a 10-2 UConn run that got the Huskies back within 24-19 with 7:33 left in the first half. Stanford led 34-30 at halftime.