Life the last time UConn women lost 2 straight, plus the case for South Carolina's Aliyah Boston

·7 min read

There will come a day when UConn does lose back-to-back games and drops out of the AP Top 10 and even the entire rankings altogether. The past week was not it.

That the Huskies haven't lost two consecutive since March 17, 1993, is absolutely bonkers. It's a streak of 1,031 games, including 955 wins, and dates to a time before the Huskies had won the first of their record 11 titles.

Looking down the schedule, there isn't a prime spot where No. 7 UConn is in a dangerous position to lose two in a row. Doesn't mean it won't happen. But this past week, in the immediate aftermath of so many injuries, seemed like the time.

Instead, the Huskies bounced back from a loss and appeared to gain their confidence back in the second half against UCLA on ABC. They have a week to work together with the pieces they have ahead of a showdown with No. 6 Louisville, which put on its own impressive showing by defeating Kentucky, then ranked No. 14, on Sunday.

The Cardinals defense kept Rhyne Howard to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting and seven rebounds while Ahlana Smith's block, rebound and jumper on the other end gave Louisville the lead back at 2:45. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) is a must-watch.

But back to the Huskies. These current players, the oldest of whom was born in September 1998, have never known a world where UConn was a back-to-back loser. Much of the WNBA and a large swath of writers who cover it were barely alive. Sue Bird was 12 years old. The WNBA, the oldest professional women's sports league in the U.S., wasn't even around yet.

Since I already dove into the archives ahead of what looked to be a double-loss week for the Huskies, here are a few ways to put the ongoing streak into perspective:

— Only one of the program’s 20 leading scorers had enrolled at the time. Rebecca Lobo was a sophomore when the Huskies closed their season in 1993 with two loses.

— The No. 1 song on the Billboard charts was “Snow” by Informer.

— The NFL’s Buffalo Bills were in the middle of losing four consecutive Super Bowls (1990-93 seasons). O.J. Simpson didn’t lead a police chase in his white Ford Bronco until June 17, 1994.

— The NBA’s Chicago Bulls were on their way to a third consecutive title with Michael Jordan. Jordan skipped the next season to play baseball and “Space Jam” — the original, kids — was still three years away from release.

—In tennis, American Jim Courier was the No. 1-ranked men’s player and Monica Seles ranked No. 1 on the women’s side. The month after her top ranking, she was stabbed on the court during a match.

— Bill Clinton was president of the U.S. George W. Bush (2001-09), Barack Obama (2009-16), Donald Trump (2016-21) and Joe Biden (2021-present) have taken the office in the years following.

Early player of the year case: Aliyah Boston

South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston points into the crowd before of an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina won 66-59. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston points into the crowd before a game against Maryland on Dec. 12, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina won 66-59. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said after a win against UConn it was "time for Aliyah Boston to be the dominant player that she is."

And she has been in the games since, none more so than a battle against No. 8 Maryland over the weekend. She had a 16-point, 16-rebound game for her fourth double-double in the last five games and second against a top-10 opponent. Her seven blocks were nearly half of the team's 15, and followed four blocks in 25 minutes against Kansas State. The team batted away a record 16.

TEAM

MINUTES

FG

REBOUNDS

ASSISTS

BLOCKS

POINTS

No. 5 N.C. State (W 66-57)

26

3-8 (.375)

6

2

5

8

No. 9 Oregon (W 80-63)

23

7-12 (.583)

8

3

2

16

No. 2 UConn (W 73-57)

35

10-19 (.526)

15

2

1

22

No. 8 Maryland (W 66-59)

37

7-15 (.467)

16

1

7

16

The junior should lead all national player of the year conversations for what she's accomplished so far this season surrounded by similarly talented players. In the first half against Maryland, Zia Cooke led all scorers with 10 points, but the 24 other points came from six of the other seven players who took the court.

The Gamecocks can go anywhere for scoring and defense, so Boston's totals aren't going to top the charts in a tough nonconference and SEC schedule. But she's consistently making the big plays and still getting hers.

"She’s playing her ass off," former WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson, whose statue is on the South Carolina campus, told Yahoo Sports last week as part of a holiday partnership with Dick's Sporting Goods. "I love my Gamecocks. They’ve worked so hard to get to where they are, but Aliyah Boston, she is crushing it."

Boston has been compared to Wilson since her freshman season and for good reason. Boston and Cooke each reached 1,000 career points on Sunday. Wilson, who averaged 17.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game her career, reached 1,000 as a sophomore.

"I kind of see myself in her, and I used to hate when people would say that to me, like [when] a former player would say that to me," Wilson told Yahoo Sports. "But honestly, just her personality, the way she carries herself on the court, it’s great."

Boston is averaging 16.7 points after outings of eight and nine points to start the season and adds 9.7 rebounds per game. She's a key cog in what Staley has called her best defensive and rebounding team. Without her, South Carolina isn't nearly as formidable. And that's saying a lot.

Upsets of last week

With student-athletes focused on finals, the number of top-25 matchups has dropped this month. But Georgia Tech still pulled off a historic upset of UConn and Iowa State's Ashley Joens notched her first career win over rival Iowa. (AP rankings are as of game time. The Week 6 AP Top 25 is here.)

No. 12 Iowa 70, No. 15 Iowa State 77 (Iowa down two, Iowa State up three)

No. 3 UConn 44, Georgia Tech 57 (UConn down four, GT from receiving votes to No. 18)

No. 16 BYU 91, Oklahoma 99 (OT) (BYU down four)

No. 18 Texas A&M 75, TCU 87 (Texas A&M down five)

No. 23 Oregon State 52, Villanova 56 (OSU to RV)

What to watch this week in Top 25

No. 1 South Carolina (10-0) at No. 19 Duke (8-0), Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network — The Gamecocks are up against their fifth AP Top 25-ranked team. Duke has climbed the rankings and is looking for an even bigger upset than Iowa.

No. 17 Georgia (8-1) at No. 2 N.C. State (10-1), Thursday, 6 p.m. ET on ACC Network — Georgia's defense in seventh in the nation allowing 49.1 points per game, while N.C. State has averaged 81.5 points per game. The Wolfpack haven't lost since facing South Carolina.

No. 3 Stanford (6-2) at No. 7 Tennessee (9-0), Saturday, 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2  Cameron Brink is having a phenomenal sophomore campaign, averaging 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and shooting 62.1% overall in 22.1 minutes per game. Tennessee has found success despite being without star Rae Burrell.

No. 13 Michigan (10-1) at No. 5 Baylor (9-1), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN — The Bears' schedule has so far been lackluster with a three-point loss to No. 3 Maryland and defeating Missouri by two. They're up against Naz Hillmon (20.7 ppg).

No. 7 UConn (6-2) at No. 6 Louisville (8-1), Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN — Louisville is allowing 47.7 points per game, ranking fourth. It could cause problems for a team that's struggled offensively even with Paige Bueckers in the lineup.

No. 4 Arizona (9-0) at No. 11 Texas (7-1), Sunday, 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN  Texas (83.8 ppg) is one of the nation's highest-scoring teams and Arizona (49.1 ppg allowed) is one of the best defenses.