by Rob Joyce
Another hyped matchup, same old result. Top-ranked UConn went to Columbia on Monday for a highly-anticipated contest against No. 2 (and also undefeated) South Carolina. And like so many games do with the Huskies, it was never that close. UConn opened up an early 13-point lead, led by 10 at halftime, made it a 21-point game late in the third quarter and cruised to a 66-54 win that was never in doubt. The win now pushes the current UConn win streak to 60 games – with their last loss coming early last season at Stanford. It’s the third-longest win streak in women’s college basketball history, and the Huskies are chasing themselves. They also own the top two runs – a 90-game streak spanning from 2008-11, and a 70-game stretch that preceded it from 2001-03.
UConn’s dominance over the last 20 years has been well-established at this point, with 10 national titles to prove it. However, it’s always remarkable to illuminate just how dominant the Huskies have been. Take away the Huskies, and here are the longest win streaks in women’s basketball history – all of which pale in comparison:
5) Notre Dame – 37 games (2013-14):
The Irish are the only team on this list to compile all of their games during one season only. Muffet McGraw’s crew rolled through the regular season and ACC Tournament unbeaten, but were never ranked first in the nation. That’s because they were a part of history – they went into the national title game against another unbeaten team (guess who?). It was the first time in NCAA history that a pair of undefeated teams squared off in the title game, with UConn cruising to a 79-58 victory – the second of what is currently three straight championships for the Huskies.
4) Texas – 40 games (1985-87):
The Longhorns were close in 1984 and ’85 to reaching the summit, but being ranked No. 1 in the nation both years, but failing to win the national title. The ’85-86 season, though, it all came together to the tune of a 34-0 record, the first perfect season in the NCAA-era of women’s basketball. The next year they would start 6-0 before losing a home game to Tennessee in December. They wouldn’t lose again until the Final Four, when Louisiana Tech beat them in the national semifinals.
3) Baylor – 42 games (2011-12):
The Lady Bears won their second national title and became the first team ever to finish a season 40-0 with their 2011 national title. With senior Brittney Griner back, the Bears were predicted by many to challenge for another perfect season in 2012-13, but it was a short-lived experiment. After losing to Baylor in the Final Four the previous year, Stanford edged the Lady Bears 71-69 to end the win streak at 42.
2) Tennessee – 45 games (1996-98):
In the prime of the Lady Vols’ dominance in the sport came this win streak, during a stretch that would see Tennessee win three straight national titles. It started in 1996, when a 10-loss Lady Vols’ squad went on a surprise run to cut down the nets (including an Elite 8 win over UConn). The next year is perhaps the best squad Pat Summitt ever put together, as All-American Chamique Holdsclaw was joined by freshman sensations Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall, among others. Tennessee rolled to a 39-0 season and a third straight title. Their win streak would end early in the 1998-99 season, when fifth-ranked Purdue beat them 78-68 in West Lafayette.
1) Louisiana Tech – 54 (1980-82):
When women’s basketball was making the transition from AIAW to NCAA, the Lady Techsters boasted one of the nation’s premier program. In 1980-81 coach Sonja Hogg led the team to a 34-0 record and an AIAW championship. The next year was the first season of NCAA affiliation, and featuring star Janice Lawrence and point guard Kim Mulkey (yes, that Kim Mulkey, the head coach at Baylor), the Lady Techsters would see their win streak snapped at 54 games with a lone blemish at No. 7 Old Dominion. That loss would be their only one of the year, as they would finish 35-1 and win another championship.
That 54-game record would stand until 2003, when UConn beat Georgetown at the Civic Center for a 55th consecutive victory. Since then, Louisiana Tech’s mark has been toppled two other times, as UConn now owns the three longest streaks ever… in addition to separate win streaks of 35 and 33 games during the mid-1990s.