UConn emerges with hard-earned win over Maryland
However, there was absolutely nothing routine of tonight's 87-81 win over Maryland before a sellout crowd of 17,950 at the XFINITY Center.
When UConn opened the second half by scoring 14 straight points in a span of 2:37 to go up by 19, it would be easy to think "here we go again."
However, Maryland was not ready to go away quietly. The lead was 13 at the end of three quarters and then it was sliced to six midway through the final quarter. UConn wasn't getting the good offensive looks it did earlier in the game and both starting forwards Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier had four fouls.
Williams, Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson (who was sick enough that UConn coach Geno Auriemma wondered if she was going to be able to play), Kia Nurse and Saniya Chong combined to make enough clutch plays for UConn to post win No. 87 in a row.
"When we were up 19 (in the third quarter) all I kept thinking about is I got a feeling it is going to be 2," Auriemma said. "As the fouls kept piling up, I was really worried. We maybe won because in one way it is Connecticut and they are used to making some of the plays that they made, when we needed a shot we got one, when we needed a stop we got one, when we needed a play to be made we got one. It came from different spots and we needed every one of them. Given the circumstances, the way the game played out and all the issues that we had, this is probably the best win we've had up to this point of the season."
Samuelson picked things up offensively in the third quarter when her teammates were dealing with foul trouble. She said whenever she was asked by either her coaches or the medical staff how she was feeling, she said she was fine even if she did have to throw up before the game.
"I kind of expected to play the whole time," said Samuelson, who admitted to throwing up before the game. "It is such a big game and such a great atmosphere, I wasn't going to miss this."
Nurse finished with 19 points and five assists, Williams had 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Collier had 12 points and Saniya Chong had 10 including a huge 3-pointer in the final minute to go with Samuelson's 23 points.
Destiny Slocum had 19 of her 23 points in the second half for Maryland (12-1), Brionna Jones had 19 points and 13 rebounds, Kaila Charles had 18.
UConn goes after its 88th win in a row against UCF on Jan. 1. There was a time when going after win No. 88 would draw an incredible amount of national media considering it would have tied the NCAA Division I basketball record set by the John Wooden coached UCLA men's teams. But having already won 90 games in a row, it is just another number.
Speaking of numbers, if you go by the NCAA record book, the 30th straight road victory would tie the women's Division I record set by UConn from 2007-10 and tied at Notre Dame from 2012-15. However beginning on Feb. 7, 2001 with a win over Virginia Tech and up until Notre Dame bead the Huskies on Jan. 13, 2004 the Huskies won either 33 or 34 straight road games depending on one game that could be ruled as a road game or being played on a neutral court. UConn has reached out to the NCAA seeking clarification but hasn't heard back yet.
This is also the fourth time UConn finished a calendar year undefeated. UConn was 39-0 in 2016. The Huskies were 36-0 in 2002, 38-0 both in 2009 and 2015.