UConn women trying for 100th straight home win
Connecticut senior Tiffany Hayes has never lost a home game, and is on the verge of helping establish another milestone in women's college basketball.
Second-ranked UConn (24-2, 11-1 Big East), which made national headlines last year during a run to 90 straight wins, will play St. John's (17-8, 9-3) on Saturday with a chance to win its 100th consecutive home game.
The last time UConn tasted defeat at home was on March 6, 2007, when the team lost to Rutgers in the Big East championship game, 55-47. No current member of the team has ever lost at either Gampel Pavilion or the XL Center in Hartford.
''We take that to heart,'' said Hayes, the only senior on the team. ''When we're at home, we feel like we shouldn't lose.''
The streak is already the longest in the history of women's basketball. The Huskies long ago broke the Division I record of 69 it had shared with Tennessee, and set the overall women's record in November by beating Dayton and passing Division III Rust (Miss.) College, which won 88 straight at home from 1982-89.
Stanford currently has the second-longest active streak at 76 games, which includes last year's win that snapped UConn's record 90-game overall winning streak.
Others have had long home winning streaks snapped this year. UConn ended Duke's 24-game home winning streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 30, and Notre Dame had a 21-game overall winning streak, and a 20-game home winning streak snapped with a loss to West Virginia last Sunday.
''I think with each really good team that loses at home, you begin to see how difficult it is to do that, what we've done,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ''With our team we talk a lot about everybody wins at home, we say that, but it's not true.''
The Huskies haven't just won on their home court, they have dominated. All but two of the games during the streak have been decided by double digits, and the Huskies have won 35 of them by more than 40.
''You have your crowd. You have your student section. You have your family and friends here and you want to make them proud,'' said UConn guard Caroline Doty. ''So, to come out and not be able to perform, we don't really want to think about that.''
The streak began in the first-round of the 2007 NCAA tournament, with an 82-33 win over Maryland-Baltimore County in Storrs.
The NCAA counts UConn's postseason games in Hartford and Storrs as home games, and UConn plays a lot of postseason games at home. The Big East tournament has been held in Hartford every year since 2004 and UConn has hosted the first two-rounds of the NCAA tournament three times during the streak.
The school will not have home games in the NCAA tournament this year, but will likely still be in Connecticut, at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
''It's still about the team you have, how good you are to the point where it doesn't matter where you play,'' Auriemma said. ''So the fact that we've been able to play games in the NCAA tournament on our home court or the fact that we play Big East championship games or tournament games on our home court, I'd be lying if we say it's not an advantage, but it's not like, `You know what, their home record is so much better than their road record that that is why they've had the success that they've had.'''
A win Saturday will put UConn 29 games behind Kentucky's men, who set the all-time basketball record for consecutive home wins between 1943 and 1955.
The St. John's game will be the final one this year on campus. UConn has just one other regular-season game in Hartford this year, the finale with No. 3 Notre Dame on Feb. 27.