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Streaking UConn women look for record against Duke

Posted: Friday, January 02, 2004

HARTFORD, Conn. The plan is simple and the results beyond question.

''Our approach is we're not going to lose at home,'' Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said.

Top-ranked Connecticut stays true to its word, and has a chance to again rewrite the record books of women's college basketball.

The four-time national champion Huskies (9-0) already own the record for longest win streak at 70 games set last year. A victory at Hartford Civic Center against No. 4 Duke on Saturday would be their 70th straight home win, breaking the mark they share with Tennessee.

The nationally televised game also features a marquee matchup of two of the game's best players UConn's Diana Taurasi and Duke's Alana Beard.

''We don't cross (the wins) out on the chalkboard,'' Taurasi said. ''You just play the game and it's a little added bonus. Coach always says if you get a chance to put your name in the record books, you should take advantage of it.''

Taurasi, a senior All-American, has not lost at home and hardly at all anywhere else for that matter. The Huskies are 117-4 in the Taurasi era, winning back-to-back national titles along the way.

Tennessee handed UConn's its last home loss, 72-71 on Feb. 2, 2000.

''A team might come in and outplay us and beat us,'' Auriemma said. ''But we're not going to play poorly and give you the basketball game.''

Beard has made it clear that Duke (9-1) has not forgotten last year's game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils were No. 1 at the time and the Huskies won 77-65 before a sellout crowd of 9,314.

''I truly believe that every one on our team felt we were embarrassed on our home court,'' Beard said. ''Anytime you have a chance to play again, it's a revenge game.''

Duke coach Gail Goestenkors acknowledged her team may have been rattled playing in front of its first home sellout last year.

''It was something we had not experienced before,'' Goestenkors said. ''I think the players learned a great deal from that. You need to be the aggressor. Connecticut does such a great job setting the tone.''

The Cameron Crazies won't be around this time, however. Instead, 16,294 Huskymaniacs are expected for the program's 103rd straight sellout. Every Connecticut women's game is televised on regional public TV, yet capacity crowds still show, regardless of the opponent or the weather.

''I do think that's what makes us unique,'' Auriemma said. ''I think that speaks to the passion and they bring it to the arena almost every night and certainly they will on Saturday.''



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