By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Jeanette Pohlen wasn't about to celebrate until the final buzzer. Then she whooped and hollered along with everybody else in the sold out Maples Pavilion. She even got a high-five moments later from former teammate and current WNBA star Candice Wiggins.
Pohlen scored a career-high 31 points and matched her season-high with nine rebounds as the Stanford women's basketball stunned visiting Connecticut, 71-59, Thursday night, ending the Huskies' NCAA basketball record 90-game winning streak.
UConn, which never held a lead, began the streak after losing to Stanford in the national semifinals of the 2008 NCAA tournament in Tampa Bay.
"I had the mentality that I was not going to give up until the buzzer went off," Pohlen said. "They are a team that never gives up and are very determined. I'm just happy we defended Maples."
Having Wiggins in her sight line made it all the more special.
"I was still on the court and she came out immediately," Pohlen said. "I've looked up to her since my freshman year. She's a great leader and she led the way for our program to get back to the Final Four. She's always full of energy and she was going crazy
The win extended Stanford's home winning streak to 52, and Wiggins was still in a Cardinal uniform when it all began.
"It wasn't perfect but we played well," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We'll get better and they'll get better. I'm just happy for the team. The streak is something they did and it's an amazing accomplishment but we're about Stanford and what we what to do."
Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 12 points while Kayla Pedersen had eight points and 11 rebounds.
"We let it get away from us," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "With the atmosphere and what was going on, when Maya (Moore) could not get going early it affected the rest of the guys. We weren't ourselves but give Stanford credit; they took us out of what we wanted to do. They made us play bad and they played well. They deserved to win."
The Huskies closed to within 40-36 early in the second half after Kelly Faris hit a pair of free throws. It would be as close as UConn would get the rest of the way.
The defining moment came with 2:39 left to play when Pohlen grabbed a rebound and found Chiney Ogwumike, streaking downcourt all by herself, with a pass that turned into an easy basket.
The Huskies called a timeout but really never had a chance after that play gave Stanford a 63-55 edge.
"We had people come in and really make hustle plays that proved to be the difference," Pohlen said. "Those are things that don't show up on the stat sheet."
What did show up on the stat sheet was Pohlen's incredible line. In addition to 31 points and nine rebounds, she also recorded six assists and committed a mere three turnovers. She was 8-of-15 from the field, which included a 5-of-9 effort from long range.
"She was awesome," Pedersen said. "She put the team on her back and basically told us 'we're not losing today' by her actions and attitude."
Connecticut's Maya Moore, who played against Pohlen in high school, was not surprised about her play.
"I always thought she was a great player," Moore said. "She has the right mindset, she's steady and she's consistent. She played the way a senior should play at home. It was a pretty simple thing. They were playing a good ballgame."
In the first 20 minutes, every time Stanford made a run, the Huskies returned the favor. A couple of careless Stanford fouls in the final 32 seconds gave the Huskies a chance to crawl within 34-30 by intermission.
The last time the Huskies were down at halftime, it was to Stanford in last year's national championship game. UConn had an answer that time.
"Other times we haven't played well and still won," Auriemma said. "But we didn't play anyone who played as well as Stanford. Finally, a team took advantage of the mistakes we made. They forced us into some mistakes we haven't made all year."
Stanford opened a 17-4 lead, with Pohlen scoring 10 of those points, in the first 6:31 of the contest. The Cardinal hit eight of its first 11 shots, including four of five from beyond the arc. UConn missed 10 of its first 13 shots, five of six from long range.
It was Stanford's turn to go cold from the field and it went without a field goal for five minutes, allowing the Huskies to cut the lead to 24-19.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike broke the spell and sparked a Cardinal that upped the lead to 32-19 as UConn found itself going through its own five-minute cold spell.
UConn outscored Stanford, 11-2, the rest of the half.