A Wooden Benchmark, An Irish Funeral: Huskies Won 90 In A Row To Surpass UCLA, But They Couldn't Beat Notre Dame A Third Time

The 2010-11 season overflowed with promise of a potential fourth consecutive Final Four, promise of perhaps a third straight national title, promise of an astounding senior season from

Maya Moore


But there was something else, and it promised to hover over the program all season.



approached their opener against Holy Cross on a 78-game winning streak, dating to their loss to


in the national semifinals of the 2008 Final Four in


, Fla.

That left an already historically accomplished program on the precipice of the iconic 88-game winning streak assembled by

John Wooden

's UCLA men from 1971-74.

And from the start of the season, every UConn press conference featured at least one, and usually more, inquiries about how the pursuit of Wooden would impact the Huskies.

It was, it would be, the sliver buried deep in

Geno Auriemma

's thumb -- terribly annoying.

On top of that, critics from men's basketball, insulted by the threat Auriemma's program posed to Wooden's legacy, fired away as if UConn had crashed a private fraternity party.

"I don't expect the men's world to embrace this, if we get there," Auriemma said before the season. "I don't expect anyone to embrace anything we do."

The countdown began Nov. 14, 2010, with a 117-37 win over the Crusaders at

Gampel Pavilion

. And it then leaped potential obstacles; Baylor and 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner and a tough road game at Georgia Tech that left the Huskies with 81 straight wins heading into the Thanksgiving weekend.

Finally, appropriately, the Huskies traveled to

Madison Square Garden

on Dec. 19 to play 11th-ranked

Ohio State

in the Maggie Dixon Classic, hoping to tie the record. UConn blasted the Buckeyes, 81-50.

And then on Dec. 21 at the

XL Center

, a capacity crowd watched Moore almost singlehandedly carry UConn to the record. She scored 41 points to lead the Huskies to the 93-62 win that gave them win No. 89.

"Doing something 89 times in a row?" UConn's

Tiffany Hayes

said. "Well, I guess I can say now that it can be done."

The number would be extended once more at the University of Pacific before ending at an even 90 during a lackluster loss at Stanford on Dec. 30.

"All I can say is that we made you pay attention." Auriemma said. "Nobody had to [pay attention], but you did."

That settled, the Huskies refocused on more earthly goals. After dealing with the departure of freshman

Samarie Walker

following a win over


on Jan. 15, they pushed forward.

The Huskies ended the regular season 29-1, another perfect

Big East

season (16-0) in their travel bag as they headed to the Big East tournament.

There they knocked off





Notre Dame

to win the Big East championship for the 17th time.

At 32-1, UConn earned the


's overall No. 1 seed and an assignment to the


Regional that began with wins over Hartford and Purdue at Gampel Pavilion and Georgetown and Duke at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

The Huskies were in the Final Four for the 12th time. And there waiting was the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, whom they had defeated three times.

UConn would not win a fourth time. The Irish ended the Huskies' season with a convincing 72-63 win.

"I'm pretty sure nobody in America had Notre Dame playing Texas A&M in the final," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "I think we definitely earned it. I think we worked hard to get here."