UConn avoids back to back over and over

By Carl Adamec

WASHINGTON — Presidents may come and go here every eight years or so but one of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team’s most amazing streaks — and there have been many over the past two decades — finds a way to outlast them.

The Huskies went the final seven years and 10 months of Bill Clinton’s presidency, both terms of George W. Bush’s presidency, and nearly into the second term of President Barack Obama without losing back-to-back games.

That streak wasn’t about to end in our nation’s capital Wednesday night.

Third-ranked UConn rebounded from its loss to Notre Dame with a 75-48 Big East win over Georgetown before 2,387 at McDonough Arena.

UConn (13-1 overall, 1-1 Big East) has not lost back-to-back games since falling to Providence in the Big East tournament semifinals and Louisville in the NCAA tournament first round to end the 1992-93 season, a stretch of 707 games. Duke has the nation’s second-longest current streak without consecutive losses at 178.

The Huskies are 52-0 following a loss since the start of the 1993-94 campaign.

“I haven’t really given it that much thought,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I’m sure the guys that keep stats for a living do. I get reminded of it every time we lose, I know that.

“This particular group we’re trying to learn some things and trying to find out some things about what we can do well, what we can’t do well, what we’re really good at, what we need to get better at. That pretty much has taken all my time.”

Kelly Faris led the Huskies with 15 points, 14 in the first half. Stefanie Dolson added 13 points while Breanna Stewart did most of her damage in the second half to finish with a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds. All-American Bria Hartley also had 12 points.

But the star of the game may have been freshman guard Moriah Jefferson, who came off the bench to get nine points, season highs of six rebounds and seven steals, and two assists in 27 minutes. She also had no turnovers against the Hoyas’ pressure defense and defensively held her own against the nation’s leading scorer Sugar Rodgers.

“It felt like the way I used to play, going up and down the court all the time and playing pressure defense,” Jefferson said. “That’s what I’m used to.”

And the Huskies would love to get used to her playing like that more.

“It’s back to the old Moriah,” Faris said. “I thought she had at least double-figure steals. She went out and just played and played her heart out and did what she does best. She got the hustle plays.

“When we get steals and fast breaks that’s huge for us. When she plays like that it’s big for our team and what we can do offensively.”

UConn spotted Georgetown (10-5, 1-1) the first basket and then ran off 12 unanswered points as five players hit the scoring column. A 3-pointer by Faris and a hoop by Dolson gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the half at 28-11 with 8:09 left. Rodgers then came alive to score nine of her team’s next 11 points as Georgetown pulled within 31-22. But Faris ended the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 38-23 at the break.

Georgetown got no closer than 12 the rest of the way. All-American Hartley, who had missed seven of her first eight shots, hit a trio of 3-pointers in an 82-second span to push the lead to 20 with 14:26 left. The Huskies’ biggest lead was 31.

“We had a chance to blow it open in the first half,” Auriemma said. “We didn’t handle the ball great. We did a much better job in the second half.”

Rodgers finished with 23 points, three below her average, and was 8-for-22 from the floor as she was chased around by Faris and Jefferson. She also had five turnovers. No one else scored in double figures for the Hoyas.

“It’s a challenge with Sugar,” Faris said. “You try to keep the ball out of her hands. She’s good at getting herself open and getting shots off. Moriah did a great job on her.”

“Sugar took 22 shots to get 23 points and that’s not a real efficient offensive performance,” Auriemma said. “We forced a lot of tough shots and she made some incredibly difficult shots. We weren’t concerned with how many shots anyone else was going to get. Anything good that was going to happen for Georgetown tonight was going to be because of Sugar. So we spent our efforts guarding her.”

UConn shot 42.4 percent from the floor and 41 of its 66 tries were from behind the arc. The Huskies out-rebounded the Hoyas 44-41 and 14 of their 19 turnovers came in the first half. Georgetown shot 31.0 percent and UConn turned its 26 turnovers into 30 points.

Sophomore Kiah Stokes made her first appearance in a game for UConn since Dec. 6 after sitting out with a right shin stress reaction. She played 10 minutes and did not score. UConn was without freshman Morgan Tuck (right knee bone bruise).

Georgetown has lost 28 straight to UConn and has not beaten the Huskies at McDonough Arena since 1992.

The Huskies now head to Milwaukee and the Al McGuire Center for the first of two regular season meetings with Marquette Saturday (4 p.m., SNY).