Experience necessary to beat UConn

By Carl Adamec

NEW YORK — The University of Connecticut and St. John’s women’s basketball teams have a long history. Today’s meeting between the Big East rivals at Carnesecca Arena is the 56th between them. The Huskies lead 38-17 with 37 wins in the last 39 games.

The Red Storm’s last win at Carnesecca Arena/Alumni Hall came on Jan. 6, 1993, 54-51. A year ago, St. John’s ended UConn’s NCAA record 99-game home winning streak with a 57-56 victory at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma is 38-8 against St. John’s, while Red Storm first-year coach Joe Tartamella is coaching against the Huskies for the first time. And he has a chance to make a little history.

The last time an Auriemma team was beaten by a rookie coach in his first head coaching job came on Dec. 28, 1986, 918 games ago. La Salle, coached by John Miller, beat UConn 65-60 at the La Salle Invitational in Philadelphia.

Ironically, Miller’s Explorers beat Auriemma’s Huskies in all three meetings between the schools. La Salle defeated UConn 72-63 in the Huskies’ first NCAA tournament game in 1989 at the Storrs Field House. Then on Dec. 29, 1989, La Salle topped UConn 83-72 in overtime in the championship game of the La Salle Invitational.

La Salle is the only school that Auriemma (823-130, .864), who is second in NCAA history in winning percentage, has faced more than once in his Hall of Fame career and has a losing record against (0-3).

The last time an Auriemma team lost to a team with someone in his/her first year at that particular school was when Vanderbilt, coached by Jim Foster, defeated UConn 75-47 in a NCAA tournament second-round game in Nashville. Foster previously coached at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.). In fact, Foster and C. Vivian Stringer are the only coaches to beat Auriemma’s UConn teams at two different schools.