STANFORD, Calif. » Stanford really does have UConn’s number.
Top-ranked Connecticut’s record 90-game winning streak in women’s basketball ended last night when No. 9 Stanford outplayed the Huskies from the start in a 71-59 victory at Maples Pavilion — where the Cardinal have their own streak going.
Stanford hasn’t lost in 52 games at home. The Cardinal took an early 13-point lead, never trailed and didn’t let the mighty Huskies back in it after halftime in this one. They kept pounding the ball inside and banging the boards.
UConn fans accustomed to watching coach Geno Auriemma’s team blow past opponents hadn’t seen a loss since the 2008 NCAA semifinals — Stanford got the Huskies that time, too, 82-73 in the Final Four at Tampa, Fla.
"At some point reality had to set in, and today reality set in," Auriemma said. "I’m not destroyed about it. Winning that many games in a row, it’s unheard of."
These teams have a bit of a history. Last season, Stanford almost beat Maya Moore and UConn in the national championship game before losing 53-47.
That the Cardinal won in the rematch shouldn’t have been a total surprise.
Stanford was unbeatable at home, had given the Huskies fits in past meetings, and UConn came close to losing to then-No. 2 Baylor last month.
Jeanette Pohlen hit five 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 31 points for the Cardinal (9-2). Moore couldn’t find a rhythm until it was too late, held to 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
"I thought we let it get away from us," Auriemma said. "I think the atmosphere and what was going on and when Maya 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 to 1974 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."
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.
Former Stanford star Candice Wiggins — who got the Cardinal back to the Final Four in that 2008 NCAA run — danced onto the floor in celebration the second the final buzzer sounded and slapped high-fives with players. VanDerveer returned to the court and thanked the crowd, then Pohlen did the same.
Yet nobody rushed the court after a monumental victory for this program, which hasn’t won it all since 1992.
"It’s not a national championship, but it’s a very big game for us and we’re very excited," VanDerveer said.