New league, same domination from UConn women

Posted: January 30, 2014

TEMPLE'S Tonya Cardoza had her left hand on her cheek as the clock wound down and the final buzzer sounded from McGonigle Hall. She seemed a little distraught, but a little amazed at the same time. That reaction is common among basketball coaches after they encounter the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies.

The latest streak for Geno Auriemma and the Huskies stands at 28 games after a 93-56 dismantling of Temple last night. The Huskies have not lost a game since March 12, 2013, when they lost to Notre Dame in the Big East finals.

Rateska Brown (13 points) was the only player in double figures for the Owls (10-10, 4-5 in the American Athletic Conference), who fell to their new conference rivals for the second time this season.

A big reason for the Huskies' success has been the play of Breanna Stewart. The sophomore forward came into the game averaging 18.7 points. She put on a show, scoring a career-high 37 points on 15-for-19 shooting.

"She never ceases to amaze me how hard she works," Auriemma said. "There's a lot more things she wants to get better at."

As a freshman, she was named Women's NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 23 points in the national championship game against Louisville.

"She gets into those grooves where every time she shoots the ball it goes in, no matter where she is on the floor," Auriemma said.

"I want to be the best player in the country," Stewart said. "I want to, obviously, win a national championship, and I think the goal is winning a national championship every year, not just one. I'm going to be here for 4 years."

Auriemma has had fantastic teams in the past. UConn won a record 90 games in a row from November 2009 to December 2010. He does not like to compare teams from the past with this team, because there are glaring differences. He believes this team is special, and a big part of it is Stewart.

"Each team is different," Auriemma said. "Each team is somewhat special in their own right. We have a special player like Stewie that nobody else in the country has and is willing to be coached, and is willing to do the things to help our team win. She is not just in this for herself."

This year's powerhouse team is 22-0, 9-0 in the its first season in the AAC. The Huskies have been ranked No. 1 since the preseason and know they will get the best shots from every opponent.

"Every team that you play wants to be the team that knocks off the No. 1 team," sophomore Moriah Jefferson said. "We have to come out knowing that everybody is going to play 100 times harder when they are playing against you."

"I think that it is something that we need to prepare for," Stewart added. "Teams are going to try to come after us and play their best every single night and we need to be ready."

On Twitter: @AndrewJAlbert01

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