Basketball winning streaks
On January 19, 1974, the UCLA Bruins lost a basketball game to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 71–70. It ended a streak of 88 consecutive victories, which coincidentally began after losing to Notre Dame almost three years earlier on January 19, 1971. The streak encompassed 88 games, an NCAA division I basketball record eclipsing the 60 game streak of San Francisco in 1956. The streak is still an active Division I men's basketball streak, but the Division I basketball streak was matched when the University of Connecticut women's basketball team won a game against Ohio State on December 19, 2010 and the old record was eclipsed when the team won their 89th consecutive victory against Florida State on December 21, 2010. UConn's streak ended at 90 games, after losing to Stanford, who was the last team to beat UConn before the start of the streak.
- 1 NCAA streaks
- 1.1 San Francisco – men's basketball – 60 games
- 1.2 UCLA streak – men's basketball – 88 games
- 1.3 UConn streak – women's basketball – 70 games
- 1.4 UConn streak – women's basketball – 90 games
- 2 AAU basketball
- 3 High school basketball
- 4 See also
- 5 References
San Francisco – men's basketball – 60 games
In 1950, Phil Woolpert, a high school coach at the time, took over as head basketball coach of the San Francisco Dons when Pete Newell left to coach Michigan State University. The school had no gym, and arranged for practices at a nearby high school. The team went 44–48 in its first four seasons, and weren't expected to be very good in the 1954–1955 season.
The team started off the season with three wins, then lost to UCLA 47–40. They would go on to win 60 consecutive games, including two national championships, and the first undefeated seasons in NCAA basketball history. Two of the players on the squad for the first 55 games of the streak, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, would go on to star for the Boston Celtics.
After winning their second national championship in 1956, Russell and Jones graduated. The team would go on to win five more games. Before the streak officially ended, they lost a game, when they took on the US Olympic team. Both Russell and Jones were on the Olympic team. The streak ended officially on December 17, 1956, when Illinois beat San Francisco 62–33, establishing an NCAA men's basketball winning streak of 60 games.
UCLA streak – men's basketball – 88 games
When the 1970–71 basketball season started, the reigning national champion was UCLA, having won its sixth championship in the spring. They started the season with a five-game winning streak from the previous season, and would win their next thirteen games, reaching a winning streak of 18 games. In addition to the consecutive wins streak, the UCLA team had won 49 consecutive games against non-conference opponents.
However, on January 23, 1971, UCLA played Notre Dame at Notre Dame. Austin Carr scored 46 points, leading the Irish to an 89–82 victory. Six days later, UCLA would win their next game against Santa Barbara, the start of the new win streak. The following game was against their local rival USC, who was undefeated at the time, and ranked number two in polls, one position ahead of UCLA at number three. UCLA won the contest 64–60, and would go on to win the rest of the games that season, winning their fifth consecutive Nation Championship (seventh overall) and pushing their winning streak to 15 games. There was little attention to the streak at the time. The 15 game streak wasn't long compared to the existing NCAA Division I basketball record of 60 games, and UCLA itself had longer streaks in its history, having won 47 consecutive games during Lew Alcindor's time. In addition, the media attention was more focused on the NBA-ABA bidding wars, as the professional leagues were attempting to entice college players to join the professional ranks.
Interest in the streak grew late in the 1971–72 season, when it reached 40 games. The media reports of the games began including the streak count in the headline about this time. By the end of the season, the UCLA team had won another national championship, and stretched the streak to 45 games. In the following season, Coach John Wooden acknowledged the streak, but tried to downplay it. According to Bruins guard Greg Lee, "Tonight, Coach Wooden did mention our long win streak, but told us not to think about it. Speaking for the team, I know I'm not thinking about it. I don't worry about losing when I go to bed."
San Francisco, the holders of the record at the time, had chances to end the streak, but they lost twice, accounting for win number 58 and number 73. After UCLA tied the 60-game NCAA Division I record, the following game, with a chance to set a new mark, was against Notre Dame. However, the Irish would come up short, losing by 19. Win number 75 was the National Championship of the 1972–73 season. Immediately after the game, rather than staying to celebrate, junior Bill Walton headed to a meeting with Sam Gilbert to discuss a possible offer from the Philadelphia 76ers for a reported $2 million. However, Walton would return for his senior year.
In the 1973–74 season, UCLA had a close call against Maryland but ended up winning by a single point for win number 77. They would win number 79 against North Carolina State by 18 points, although they would later lose to the eventual national champions in the NCAA semifinals, the first team other than UCLA to win the national title since 1966.
On January 19, 1974, UCLA played Notre Dame after beating Iowa 66–44 for its 88th consecutive victory. UCLA had beaten Notre Dame during the streak, although the streak started after a Notre Dame win in 1971. Digger Phelps, the 32-year-old coach of Notre Dame. decided to change up his game plan from his previous strategy. The strategy largely worked. Although Walton would hit 12 of 14 shots, the UCLA team was not often able to lob the ball into Walton. Even during the game, the eventual outcome was far from obvious. The Bruins outplayed the Irish in the opening minutes, building a 17-point lead. The Bruins held a 70–59 lead with under four minutes to go in the game, but the Irish would go on a 12–0 run, winning the game 71–70, and ending the longest NCAA Division I men's basketball streak at 88 games.
UConn streak – women's basketball – 70 games
In March 2001, UConn had won their second national championship a year earlier, and was headed to the NCAA tournament as a number 1 seed. They had only lost two games during the regular season, once to Tennessee, and once to Notre Dame, each of whom were number one seeds in the tournament. However, the UConn squad had lost Svetlana Abrosimova, an All-American who would be drafted seventh in the WNBA draft, to a season-ending foot injury. The UConn team easily beat Long Island University 101–29 in the opening game, but lost the 2000 Sports Illustrated Player of the Year, Shea Ralph, to a season-ending knee injury. The depleted UConn squad won their next three games to advance to the Final Four in St. Louis. Their opening game was against Notre Dame, a team they had lost to in the regular season, but had beaten to win the Big East Championship game. The UConn team had a twelve-point lead going into halftime of the semi-final game, but fell behind in the second half, and lost to the eventual National Champion. That would be the last game they would lose until 2003.
UConn started the 2001–02 season with two relatively easy wins, beating Fairfield on November 9, 2001 93–50, and two days, later, beating FIU 91–47. Next up was perennial power North Carolina, but the Huskies prevailed 94–74. In December, they beat Oklahoma 86–72, the closest game of the season to that point. The next challenge was Tennessee on January 2002, but UConn won 86–72. UConn continued to win throughout the season, ending the regular season with a record of 30–0.
They won the rest of the Big East Conference matches easily, and entered the NCAA Tournament as a number 1 seed. The semi-final game was against a two seed, Tennessee, but the game was not close, with UConn winning 79–56. The National Championship game was against Oklahoma. The game was close until the final seconds, with UConn winning its third National Championship, completing its second undefeated season, and finishing the year with a 39–0 record.
The 2002–03 season opened with a win over Wright State 85–39. After beating North Carolina State, UConn traveled to Hawai'i, where they would meet their prior year National Championship opponent in the final of the Rainbow Wahine Classic. UConn would again prevailed, winning 73–60 for their 44th consecutive win. The biggest challenge to the streak would come in the 51st game, a home game against Tennessee. The game would go into overtime, with UConn prevailing by a single point 63–62. The following game against Rutgers would also be close, but UConn won 67–62.
UConn played a strong Duke squad at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 1, 2003, but managed to win 77–65. They finished up the regular season without a loss, and reached the Big East Tournament with a 68-game winning streak. They won their first two games in the Big East Tournament easily, then faced Villanova, a team they had beaten in January by twenty points, 58–38. This game would turn out much differently, with Villanova achieving an upset, knocking the UConn team out of the Big East Tournament, and ending the NCAA women's basketball win streak at 70 games.
UConn streak – women's basketball – 90 games
The loss before the streak begins
The 2007–08 season started with a lot of promise. UConn faced fourth-ranked Stanford in the Virgin Islands, but won 66–54. The team would reach the end of the regular season with only a single loss, to Rutgers at Rutgers 73–71, then won the rematch at home 66–46. However, the team lost two starters to injury, Kalana Greene and Mel Thomas. UConn won the first four games of the NCAA Tournament, but then faced a rematch with Stanford, who won the semifinal game 82–73. That would prove to be the last loss for some time.
2008–09 season (wins 1–39)
UConn opened the season against Georgia Tech, a team unranked in the pre-season. The game was tied at the half; UConn went on to win by eleven. The fifth game of the season was against Oklahoma, a team ranked number 4 in the polls. Characterized as a "significant test" by ESPN's Graham Hays, Connecticut would win easily by 32 points, 106-72.
After winning their first 17 games, Connecticut faced the number two ranked team in the nation North Carolina, also 17–0 for the season. UConn was ranked number one, but had just lost starter Caroline Doty to a season-ending knee injury in the prior game. Despite the loss of Doty, the game did not turn out to be the close game anticipated. UConn reached a double-digit lead early in the game, extended to a 46-30 halftime lead, and finished with a 30 point victory, 88-58. All five starters, including Lorin Dixon in her first start of the season, would each score in double digits, led by Renee Montgomery with 21.
During the rest of the regular season, only Notre Dame and Rutgers played UConn to within ten points, with each team losing by exactly 10. The team entered the Big East tournament with a 30–0 record.
Neither of the first two rounds of the Big East tournament were close, with UConn defeating South Florida by 37 points, and Villanova by 30 points. The final was expected to be a contest, because Louisville had a record of 29–4 and was ranked seventh in the nation. However, with eight minutes to go in the game, UConn's Maya Moore had scored 28 points, while the Cardinals had only 27. UConn went on to win 75–36.
Connecticut won the first four games of the NCAA Tournament easily. That setup a rematch with Stanford, the last team to beat UConn. This time the UConn team prevailed, winning with a score of 83–64. The National Championship game was between UConn and Louisville, a team UConn had beaten in both the regular season and the Big East Championship game. Connecticut won the third meeting as well, 76–54, winning their sixth national championship and completing their third undefeated season.
2009–10 season (wins 40–78)
The Connecticut team opened the year ranked #1 in both the ESPN Coaches poll and the AP Top 25 Poll, following a 39–0 record leading to a National Championship in the prior season. In both cases, the polling results were unanimous. UConn graduated three seniors, Renee Montgomery, Tahirah Williams and Cassie Kerns, but only Montgomery was a regular starter. The team added one freshman, Kelly Faris, and Caroline Doty returned to the line-up after missing most of the prior season due to injury.
Despite working toward their 40th consecutive win, the focus in the early part of the season was not on the streak, but on other accomplishments. In the opening game against Northeastern, Tina Charles scored her 1000th career rebound. In the same game, Kalana Greene scored her 1000th career point. After winning their ninth game of the season, and extending their streak to 48 games, UConn faced Stanford at home. Both teams were undefeated, and were ranked first and second in the polls. Stanford's last loss was to UConn in 2009, and UConn's last loss was to Stanford in 2008. For the first time this season, UConn trailed at halftime. However, in the second half, the Huskies moved out to a large lead and ended up winning by 12 points.
After winning its next six games, UConn faced Notre Dame on January 16. The game was notable because it was the first ever ESPN College GameDay held before a women's basketball game. Both teams were undefeated; UConn at 16–0, ranked number one in the country and Notre Dame had a record of 15–0, with a number three ranking. However, the game would not be close. UConn led at halftime 42–19, and won 70–46.
UConn went on to win the rest of their regular season games, ending the regular season with a record of 30–0, and extending their overall streak to 69, just two games shy of the NCAA Division I women's basketball record of 70, established by UConn in 2003. UConn won the regular season Big East title, so they had a double bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. Their first game would never be close, with UConn leading at the half 44–17, and ended with a 77–41 victory. UConn's Tina Charles would tie her career high with 34 points, while Maya Moore would score the 2000th point of her career, ending the game with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. The win would be UConn's 70th consecutive win, tying the record for the longest winning streak in the history of NCAA Division I women's college basketball, set by the Huskies in 2003.
The Big East Tournament semi-final game was against Notre Dame, the third match up between the two teams this season. UConn won 59–44, to set a new NCAA women's basketball winning streak record at 71 games. However, the team was focused on upcoming games and "didn't even celebrate". UConn would go on to win the Big East title match against West Virginia 60–32.
UConn entered the NCAA tournament as a number one seed. Their first round game was against Southern—UConn won 95–39. The second round game was against Temple, coached by Tony Cardoza, who had been an assistant at UConn for 14 years. This was the first meeting of the two teams since Cardoza took over the position. UConn limited the use of the starting team, but still won 90–36. UConn then beat Iowa State 74–36 and Florida State 90–50 to advance to the Final Four.
The National Championship game was between Stanford and UConn. Stanford's last loss was to Connecticut in December 2009, and Connecticut's last loss was to Stanford, exactly two years before, in the Final Four of 2008. Stanford would go to halftime with a 20–12 lead. The 12 points scored by UConn was the lowest first-half total in the history of Connecticut basketball.
Maya Moore led the team after the half, scoring 11 of the team's first 17 points, including the basket that put Connecticut back into the lead, this time for good. Moore would end up with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the Final Four. Connecticut would go on to win 53–47, ending their streak of double-digit victories, but winning their 78th consecutive game, resulting in their seventh National Championship, their second consecutive undefeated season and their fourth overall undefeated season.
2010–11 season (wins 79–90)
UConn opened the 2010–11 season with a win over Holy Cross, 117–37. The next game was against Baylor, the number 2 ranked team in the country. Baylor jumped to an early lead 8–3, but UConn came back, and held an eight point lead at the half 35–27. Although UConn hit a three pointer in the opening seconds of the second half to extend the lead to double digits, Baylor responded with a 29–10 run to take an eight-point lead 56–48 with about seven minutes to go. Bria Hartley scored eight of her nine points in the last four minutes of the game to help UConn hold on for a 65–64 victory.
UConn's next opponent was Georgia Tech, the team involved in the first game of the streak. The win by UConn was the 81st consecutive, tying Washington University, a Division III team, for the longest streak in NCAA women's basketball. UConn hosted the World Vision Classic over Thanksgiving. In the first of the three games, UConn easily beat Howard 86–25, to set the new record consecutive win streak for NCAA women's basketball at 82 games. UConn then went on to beat the other two opponents in the Classic, Lehigh and LSU and then extended the streak to 87 games with wins over South Florida, Sacred Heart and Marquette.
The following game was the Maggie Dixon Classic, held at Madison Square Garden. Two of the four teams playing in the double-header were top-ranked UConn and 10th-ranked Ohio State. UConn won the game 81–50 to tie the NCAA basketball consecutive wins streak held by UCLA.
On Tuesday, December 21, 2010, UConn hosted Florida State in Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Maya Moore scored a career-high 41 points, but the emphasis was not on individual stats. The game represented the 89th consecutive victory, the longest winning streak in NCAA basketball history.
UCLA and Notre Dame player reactions
Bill Walton – "They play with great sense of team, great purpose, phenomenal execution of fundamentals, relentless attack," he said. "It is what every team should aspire to, regardless of the sport."
Dwight Clay, the Notre Dame player who hit the winning shot to end the UCLA streak: "Well, I think it's great. It's great for women's basketball and it's great for sports in general...But, you know, what Connecticut has done, you know, I don't believe you can separate that. Eight-eight games is 88 games. That's a hell of a treat."
Wayland Baptist – women's basketball – 131 games
The Wayland Baptist University women's basketball team was one of the predominant women's basketball team in the 1950s. In 1954, they began a winning streak that would reach 131 games, and included four consecutive AAU National Championships.
High school basketball
The Fredericton High School (Fredericton, New Brunswick) junior boys basketball team won 207 consecutive games between 2006 and 2012, including five Provincial championships. The team was coached by Gary Young.
- The Taylor County Viking's girl's basketball team from Butler, Georgia (1967 - 1972) won 132 consecutive games going undefeated for five years and winning five back-to-back state championships. The Vikings were coached by Norman Carter.
- The Roosevelt High School Rough Riders girls' basketball team from Sioux Falls, South Dakota won 111 consecutive games and six Class AA titles, including five in a row (1997-01).
- The West Holmes High School girls' basketball team won 108 consecutive games between 1984 and 1987, including three consecutive state championships. The high school is located in Millersburg, Ohio, and was coached by Jack VanReeth, inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.
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