HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Geno Auriemma knows there has been a large gap in recent years between his program and others in women’s basketball. Don’t expect him to apologize for being so good for so long.
The Hall of Famer reached 900 victories faster than any other college coach, men’s or women’s, when No. 2 UConn routed Cincinnati 96-36 on Tuesday night. The 60-year-old needed just 1,034 games to reach the milestone, and is 100-6 since win No. 800.
He said it would be good for women’s basketball if it took him more games to get his next 100 wins and he would welcome more competition.
“It’s not like we’ve done something that can’t be done,” said Auriemma, who has been at UConn for 30 years. “That’s not my fault that it’s not getting done at other places.”
The victory ties him with former Texas coach Jody Conradt for fifth place on the all-time women’s list, 198 wins behind former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
Freshman Gabby Williams led six players in double figures for the Huskies (21-1, 11-0 American Athletic Conference) with a career-high 18 points. She also had 14 rebounds.
The Huskies showed some nerves early, falling behind 5-0. But UConn scored the next 15 points, all on 3-pointers They closed the first half on a 22-0 run to put the game away.
“It’s kind of like giving back to him,” Williams said. “I know how hard he works, so for him to feel he’s getting something for me is a great feeling for me as well.”
Auriemma’s winning percentage of 87.04 percent is the best in the history of the women’s game. He also holds a record nine NCAA titles, and has appeared in the Final Four 15 times.
“I don’t want to stop setting the bar, and it’s up to everybody else to try to get there,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and we’re not going to stop.”
Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott, who played for Auriemma and was an assistant at UConn, said she hopes she’s learned something along the way about “demanding and not accepting anything less than perfection.”
“He never coached me and he doesn’t coach any of his players like girls,” she said. “He coaches us like players.”
The Bearcats missed 18 straight shots and failed to score for the last 9:27 before intermission, trailing 47-15 at the break. The Bearcats have lost five of their last six games, which also included a 96-31 defeat at the hands of the Huskies just over a week ago in Ohio.
UConn cruised through the second half and the crowd began chanting “Geno! Geno!” as the buzzer sounded.
Former players appeared in a video message after the game, congratulating their coach. His current team wore shirts that said “Geno Never Stops.” They also had on paper glasses that had the number 900 on them.
“We got a long way to go this year and a lot of work left to do,” Auriemma said to the crowd after the game. “I know this is 900, but there are six games in March that will mean as much as the previous 900 and they are the ones I’ll try to reach.”
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 16 points and Breanna Stewart added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies. Saniya Chong scored 11 points, while Kia Nurse and Morgan Tuck each had 10.
UConn has won 20 straight games since a November loss at Stanford, and has not lost a conference game since the founding of the AAC last season.
They have dominated the conference schedule this season, winning games by an average of more than 50 points.
The Huskies held Cincinnati to 14 field goals and 24.6 percent shooting
UConn faces a tougher test next Monday when it steps out of conference to host top-ranked South Carolina in Storrs.
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