139 wins, 0 losses.
That’s the mark -- including seven postseason titles -- the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team finishes with as members of the American Athletic Conference.
“We don’t expect to win every game,” coach Geno Auriemma said after the game.
“We’re not arrogant thinking that we deserve to win every game. We just prepare to win every game and try to be consistent and try to treat every team with the respect that they deserve.”
The Huskies captured their seventh and final AAC title with an 87-53 victory against Cincinnati Monday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. UConn’s undefeated run in the AAC is over -- the women will play next season in the Big East Conference.
While many of their rivals may be happy to see them go, Cincinnati coach Michelle Clark-Heard said she’s a competitor, so she’ll miss having UConn in the American.
“To be able to go through this conference and not lose, I think it says a lot for that program and for [those players] and the coaches,” Clark-Heard said.
“But if you’re a competitor, you always want to play the best.”
UConn pulled away from the Bearcats early in the second quarter during a sequence highlighted by buckets from Megan Walker and Christyn Williams, along with a blocked shot on the other end by Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Walker and Williams both had 15 points at the half.
Walker finished with a game-high 26 points and was named the AAC tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I would say it’s not a lot of pressure -- it’s more of a pride thing,” Walker said after the game in response to a reporter’s question about the team’s AAC unbeaten streak.
“We wanted to get it done for our coach and the people that came before us,” she said.
With the conference title win, UConn automatically qualifies for the NCAA Tournament for the 32nd year in a row.
They aren’t favored to win it, though. The 11-time champions have lost three games this year, all to teams currently ranked higher than they are.
“I know some fans or some people are devasted that we’re not the favorite going in, and I find it kind of humorous -- to be honest with you -- that a horrible year at Connecticut is 29-3 and winning the conference championship and being ranked fifth in the country,” Auriemma said.
“It’s a rebuilding year,” he said, poking fun at the team’s detractors. “Look around the country: Rebuilding years at other places means you don’t even make the tournament.”
UConn dropped games to Baylor, South Carolina and Oregon, losing each by an average of 17 points.
“We’re not as good as them … until we beat them, we’re not as good as them,” Auriemma said.
UConn finds out its opening round opponent on Monday, March 16. The game will take place on campus in Storrs.