The day began with tears and ended with cheers, another perfect day for what has been the perfect team for almost two consecutive seasons.
The torrent of emotion that greeted UConn's five departing seniors eventually gave way to the calm approach that produced UConn's 84-62 victory over feisty No.13 Georgetown before 15,733 at the XL Center.
The Huskies' 68th consecutive victory (29-0, 15-0) wraps up an 18th regular season Big East title — their fourth straight — and awards the nation's top-ranked team the top seed in next week's conference tournament.
"What's better than to win a championship on Senior Day?" Geno Auriemma said.
UConn's first tournament action will be in the quarterfinals March 7 against the winner of a second-round game.
And it was the greatest of the seniors who provided the biggest of games. Center Tina Charles, who took only four shots and scored three points Wednesday at Syracuse, bid farewell in memorable fashion.
"She's big, we're not," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said.
Charles (14-for-16) powered to her ninth double-double, scoring a season-high 33 points with 15 rebounds. That was one short of her career best for points set as a freshman at South Florida.
"And what a great day for that to happen," Auriemma said.
Maya Moore scored 38 at Syracuse on Wednesday, so Charles' performance was just the third time in UConn history the Huskies have had back-to-back 30-point games.
"I was just trying to leave everything I had on the court," Charles said.
She can become UConn's all-time leading scorer and rebounder Monday at Notre Dame when the Huskies try to close out a second consecutive unbeaten regular season.
Charles has 2,166 career points, third all time and just 13 shy of breaking Nykesha Sales' record. She also has 1,264 rebounds, just five shy of breaking Rebecca Lobo's rebounding mark.
"It would definitely be a great feeling," Charles said.
Georgetown (24-5, 12-3), which in the first half held the largest lead (six) of any UConn opponent this season, was led by Sugar Rodgers and Monica McNutt with 13 each.
As promised, all five seniors started. And the Hoyas, the Big East's breakout program this season, jumped on UConn early with three three-pointers to take a 9-4 lead.
With 13:58 to play in the half, the Hoyas increased the lead to 15-9. At this point it seemed certain UConn was up against an opponent with a strong business plan.
The game was strangely similar to Wednesday's in that the majority of UConn's first-half scoring was done by two players. But instead of Moore and Tiffany Hayes they were Charles and Kalana Greene, who finished with 13 points.
They combined for 30 of UConn's 45 first-half points, Charles accounting for 19 by shooting 8-for-10. She also had 11 rebounds to help the Huskies to a 45-35 lead.
"It all had to do with the way the game was going," Charles said. "Coach told us after the game that he wished we had more games like this; they were physical with us. Someone had to step up."
Moore (10 points) and Hayes (11 points) had slower starts, combining for just seven points in the first half. The two finished with 60 Wednesday, Moore also pulling down 20 rebounds.
The Hoyas appeared to be up to the task against the Huskies, playing a physical style complemented by big shots.
"Everyone knows about UConn," McNutt said. "It's no secret. We knew we had to come out and play extremely hard. We had to execute, do the little things we work on every day at practice. We were focused, locked in."
Georgetown had five three-pointers in the first half and committed only seven turnovers, a combination that kept the Hoyas in sight. McNutt, who started the game with two quick threes, had 11 at the half while Rodgers, their leading scorer, was just 2-for-10.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times