The Gamecocks hung tough throughout the first half, leading for a healthy chunk of it, but eventually the Huskies did what the Huskies do and overwhelmed the visitors en route to a 66-55 victory. The win was notable for being the 100th consecutive for Geno Auriemma's squad, extending the all-time record into triple digits.
Gabby Williams starred with 26 points and 14 rebounds for UConn, which shook off an off shooting night to fight off a strong effort from South Carolina.
|Gabby Williams (15) stole the show in UConn's 100th straight victory. Getty Images|
UConn women's basketball picks up 100th consecutive victory
Add 100 consecutive wins to the UConn Huskies' long list of milestones.
Given the team's glitzier numbers linked to national championships, 11 titles and counting, it may seem ho-hum with no added significance. Geno Auriemma's squad already owns the longest winning streak in Division I college basketball history. UConn beat its own record of 90 consecutive wins earlier this season with little fanfare.
Getting No. 100 was a little tougher than many of the previous 99, which UConn won by an average 38.7 points. Gabby Williams scored a career-high 26 points and Napheesa Collier added 18 to help the top-ranked Huskies beat No. 6 South Carolina 66-55 on Monday night in front of a sellout crowd of 10,167 that included past greats Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Breanna Stewart, who helped the Huskies to the first 75 wins of this streak.
The current group of Huskies (25-0) had to work for this win. South Carolina (21-3) used its stellar interior game of A'ja Wilson and Alaina Coates to take a 29-28 advantage late in the first half. The Huskies responded scoring the final seven points before the break. Collier and Williams had all of them, including a steal and layup by Collier with 3 seconds left that made it 35-29.
South Carolina cut its deficit to 40-37 midway through the third quarter, but Williams had consecutive layups to start an 11-2 run to close the period and basically seal the win.
After the game ended, fake hundred dollar bills dropped from the roof of the arena with Auriemma's face on them. The student section spelled out 100.
Auriemma never thought his team would come close to reaching the century mark, let alone break the previous record set by the Huskies from 2008-10. The Hall of Fame coach set up the most difficult non-conference schedule in the country, playing five of the top eight teams in the AP before Monday, including road games at No. 2 Maryland, No. 4 Florida State and No. 7 Notre Dame.
UConn came away victorious in each one. The game against the Gamecocks may be the Huskies' last challenge before the NCAA Tournament. They are 75-0 in the American Athletic Conference since joining in 2013.
Considering they most likely won't leave the state of Connecticut until the Final Four in Dallas with the first two rounds on campus and then a regional in Bridgeport, the streak may not end anytime soon.
UConn: This was the Huskies 10th game this season against a team in the current Top 25, but only two of those games have come since Jan. 1. UConn faces one more ranked opponent, when they visit No. 22 South Florida to close out the regular season. ... Of the 100 games, 59 have been decided by more than 40 points. Only two (Florida State and Maryland) were fewer than 10-point wins.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks came into the game scoring an average of 77 points a game and giving up just 54.9. The Gamecocks came into the game 5-0 against ranked opponents this season. ... They were 0-4 against UConn.
KISS THE RINGS: It was alum night for the Huskies. Joining Bird, Stewart, Moore and Charles were Kalana Greene, Caroline Doty, Asjha Jones and Morgan Tuck. Bria Hartley, who just gave birth a few weeks ago to her first child, also was in the crowd. Rebecca Lobo was in Gampel Pavilion as well, working for ESPN.
CHASING 131: UConn is still short of the overall college basketball record for consecutive wins. The Wayland Baptist women's basketball team won 131 straight from 1953-58. It wasn't the NCAA back then, it was the AAU.
STRUGGLING SAMUELSON: Leading scorer Katie Lou Samuelson had a game to forget. She missed her first eight shots before scoring her first points with 6:54 left in the third quarter. She came into the game averaging 21.4 points and finished with just six points on 2 for 12 shooting.
UCONN WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM RECORDS 100TH STRAIGHT WIN WITH VICTORY VS. USC
A 100-game winning streak is not supposed to happen in any sport at any time.
After all, there are salary caps, scholarship limits and parity-inducing draft orders in place to check such power, and that's not even accounting for random factors such as luck and poor performances on any given day.
That's what makes the Connecticut Huskies' 100th straight win—which they notched Monday with a 66-55 victory over South Carolina—downright incredible. Injuries, strong opponents and even the graduation of superstar Breanna Stewart have not slowed them down, and a fifth straight national title seems like an inevitable conclusion to this ride.
Connecticut's last lost came in overtime against Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014, back when the Chicago Cubs were still cursed by a goat, LeBron James had never won a title in Cleveland and Deflategate hadn't entered the lexicon for sports fans.
This streak started shortly after that on Nov. 23, 2014 with a straightforward 96-60 win over Creighton.
It reached the century mark Monday against a South Carolina team that was far from a pushover. The Gamecocks entered the contest with a sparkling 21-2 record and victories over Ohio State, Louisville, Texas, UCLA, Mississippi State and Kentucky, among others.
The Gamecocks were down only six at the half, but Gabby Williams proved too much. She poured in 26 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out four assists and tallied four steals in a stat-sheet stuffing effort. Napheesa Collier added 18 points and nine boards in the win.
This streak reached a record 91 games when the Huskies handled SMU on Jan. 14, 88-48. As if that wasn't an impressive enough mark, the previous record of 90 straight wins was also set by head coach Geno Auriemma's Huskies from 2008 to 2010.
Connecticut hasn't lost a conference game since the American Athletic Conference was formed in 2013-14.
The current streak is just another accomplishment for Auriemma. He has been named the Associated Press Coach of the Year eight times, and his bio on UConn's official website credits him with 11 national titles, 17 Final Fours, 43 conference titles and six perfect seasons.
The Huskies now have four more games remaining in the regular season, all against the AAC.
A 104-game winning streak come conference tournament time seems more likely than not, and Connecticut will then turn its attention toward a fifth straight title with a balanced attack featuring Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Collier and Kia Nurse.
The Huskies are talented, red-hot and battle-tested from a difficult schedule that features notable wins over Florida State, Baylor, DePaul, Texas, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Maryland and now South Carolina.
There is no reason to think they won't be adding a 12th championship to Auriemma's unassailable resume.