STANFORD, Calif. – Swarmed by three defenders for much of the day, Chiney Ogwumike released the ball off-balance or just plain forced it up to try to somehow get No. 1 Stanford going.
Not much worked. Frustration mounted on both ends of the floor. Connecticut dominated on a home court the Cardinal have ruled year after year.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and second-ranked UConn played spoiler and streak-buster this time, snapping Stanford’s nation-leading 82-game winning run in Maples Pavilion with a surprisingly easy 61-35 victory Saturday.
“I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like this,” Ogwumike said. “That Connecticut team we played for 40 minutes is the standard. And the great thing is now we’ve experienced the standard.”
The Huskies sure got a thrill from leaving with an unexpected rout and silencing a typically raucous crowd – and likely stealing away the No. 1 spot in the polls along with it.
It was the Huskies who saw the end of their NCAA record 90-game winning streak at Maples Pavilion with a 71-59 loss two years ago, almost to the day on Dec. 30.
“The last time we were here it was a big event for them and they treated it like it was a big event, and God bless them,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “But for us to win a game here in late December, it’s no more than just a big game against a really good team. The other stuff, I didn’t get all that excited about about us winning 90, I’m not going to get that excited about us beating somebody who’s won 82 in a row at home.”
Mosqueda-Lewis scored 19 points as UConn (11-0) thoroughly outplayed Stanford (11-1) on both ends of the floor in this highly touted game featuring the country’s top programs and Final Four regulars from opposite coasts.
Stanford got harassed right off the home floor that it ruled with perfection and dominant play for nearly six years – and the Huskies surely took the Cardinal’s No. 1 spot along with it.
The game was the 51st meeting between the top two teams in the poll. The No. 1 seed had won the previous nine matchups and holds a 31-20 lead.
Ogwumike had 18 points and 13 rebounds but struggled in the post as Stanford lost at home for the first time since March 2007.
“It was a bad day. Whatever we were trying to do we really struggled with it,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Connecticut came in here on a mission. Mission accomplished.”
Stefanie Dolson had 10 points and 14 rebounds and flustered Ogwumike all afternoon, and Bria Hartley and Kelly Faris also scored 10 apiece for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored seven straight points during a decisive 17-2 run in the first half as UConn built a 22-7 lead against the cold-shooting Cardinal and kept the pressure on the rest of the way.
Stanford trailed 31-13 at halftime in one of its worst 20 minutes in recent memory – though the school had no record of when the Cardinal were last held to that few points in a half.
They had gone five full seasons with an unbeaten record on their home floor.
“This is definitely beyond a wakeup call,” VanDerveer said. “It’s extremely disappointing and extremely frustrating.”
Mosqueda-Lewis, last season’s Big East top freshman averaging 16.4 points and 5.0 rebounds, shot 7 for 13 as Connecticut shot 37.5 percent from the floor – and that was plenty good enough against a Stanford team that wound up at a dismal 19.3 percent (11 for 57) in its lowest single-game shooting performance and fewest field goals made.