Women's Basketball

Connecticut’s dominance inspires coaches, players

Connecticut forward Katie Lou Samuelson works out during a practice session Thursday in Dallas. The Huskies are going for their fifth straight NCAA title.
Connecticut forward Katie Lou Samuelson works out during a practice session Thursday in Dallas. The Huskies are going for their fifth straight NCAA title. AP

They’ve won a record 11 NCAA titles since 1995, including the past four, are on a run of 111 consecutive victories and have beaten their opponents by an average of 33.2 points per game.

Connecticut’s quest for its fifth straight title begins at 9 p.m. Friday at American Airlines Center against Mississippi State, a team the Huskies throttled 98-38 in a regional semifinal last year.

The Huskies’ dominance has inspired coaches and players to step up their game to match their culture of success.

“There’s definitely teams moving up and becoming powerhouses, but I think it’s a challenge for the rest of us. One of us has to step up and figure them out,” UT Arlington coach Krista Gerlich said.

UConn isn’t alone when it comes to basketball dominance. UCLA won 88 straight men’s games from 1971-74 and 10 titles from 1964-75. In Texas, Argyle just won its third consecutive girls state championship and Duncanville its fourth in the past six years.

The Pantherettes have also had two winning streaks top the century mark: They won 134 games from 1987-91 and 105 from 2011-14.

“It’s definitely helping the women’s game,” Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan said about Huskies coach Geno Auriemma. “He’s an awesome coach and everybody on that team knows their roles.”

South Grand Prairie coach Samantha Morrow knows how hard it is to win four straight titles — she did it with Mansfield from 1999-2002.

“People don’t realize how hard it is to have that kind of success, get to the top and stay there,” Morrow said. “It’s a great coaching staff and the kids come in and buy into his system. Everyone wants to win a championship.”

During UConn’s 111-game winning streak, the Huskies have won by double digits 108 times, and 61 of those victories have been by 40 or more points. They have lost once in their past 157 games.

“You always strive to be the best,” said L.D. Bell senior Lexi Gordon, who has signed with UConn. “What impresses me the most is the consistency, the fact they’re able to maintain it throughout the whole year. The talent may change every season, but the ultimate goal doesn’t.”

Women’s Final Four

Friday

Stanford vs. South Carolina,

6:30 p.m., ESPN2

Mississippi State vs. UConn,

9 p.m., ESPN2

Sunday

Championship, 5 p.m., ESPN

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