By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — When Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, and South Florida left Conference USA for the Big East, their respective women’s basketball coaches knew what they were getting into.
Seven years later the programs still have something in common — not one has beaten the University of Connecticut since their arrival.
Heading into Tuesday’s game with Marquette at Gampel Pavilion (7 p.m., SNY), the Huskies are a combined 46-0 against the Conference USA 5 since they began play in the Big East in the 2005-06 season. There have been big games, including the national championship contest in 2009, and close games, but every game has gone UConn’s way at the end.
Since coming to the Big East, Cincinnati is 0-8, DePaul 0-9, Louisville 0-12, Marquette 0-8 (including an 85-51 loss in Milwaukee Jan. 12), and USF 0-9. The average margin of victory is 30.5 points against the Bearcats, 18.8 points against the Blue Demons, 22.5 points against the Cardinals, 27.0 points against the Golden Eagles, and 28.1 points against the Bulls.
Louisville and DePaul do have wins over the Huskies in their histories but they came well before they joined the Big East. The Cardinals topped UConn 74-71 in a 1993 NCAA tournament first-round game at Gampel Pavilion that marks the last time the Huskies lost back-to-back games. The Blue Demons’ win came on Dec. 28, 1983, 70-64 in the Masonic Classic in Coral Gables, Fla. Back then, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was an assistant coach at Virginia and veteran DePaul coach Doug Bruno was a men’s assistant coach at Loyola of Chicago. UConn and USF played twice while the Bulls were in Conference USA with the Huskies winning in Tampa 72-56 on Dec. 28, 2002, and 75-65 in overtime at Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 1, 2004.
Only five of UConn’s 46 wins are by single figures. The closest call came against DePaul on March 1, 2008, in Chicago. The Huskies trailed by as many as 17 in the second half. But a Maya Moore steal set the stage for a length-of-the-court drive by Ketia Swanier, who hit the go-ahead layup with 1.6 seconds left. When Taylor Pikes’ tip at the buzzer hit the rim and bounced away, UConn escaped with a 77-76 win.
In 2009, UConn and Louisville met in the Big East and NCAA tournament finals. The Huskies routed the Cardinals 75-36 for the Big East championship at the XL Center in Hartford. A month later, UConn completed a 39-0 national championship season with a 76-54 victory in St. Louis.
After Marquette Tuesday night, the Huskies play host to DePaul at Gampel Pavilion Sunday. They take on USF at the Sun Dome March 2.