STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut needs just one more win to match one of basketball’s greatest feats.
Maya Moore scored a season-high 31 points and Connecticut beat Marquette 79-47 on Thursday, pulling within a game of the Division I record 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team in 1974.
Tiffany Hayes and Bria Hartley each added 16 points for The Huskies (9-0, 2-0 Big East), who don’t play again until Dec. 19 against No. 6 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden.
“Obviously we have an opportunity to do something that’s pretty significant in terms of the basketball world,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “The basketball world views that number as a really significant number.”
But Moore said the Huskies view the Buckeyes as just another team looking to knock them off their perch.
“Anyone who we play we look at as someone trying to take away from our program and beat us,” Moore said. “And I don’t see that changing when we play in the Garden next weekend. If it’s pressure, than it’s exciting pressure to know that we’ve got an opportunity to make this year even more special.”
Moore was special on Thursday.
The senior All-American was 12 of 18 from the field and had eight rebounds, four steals and five blocks.
“It’s not that complicated,” Auriemma said. “Maya is really good and she makes our team what we are. Everyone that’s watched us play knows that.”
Angel Robinson led Marquette (7-2) with 15 points.
Connecticut had a 21-0 second-half run, turning a 49-36 lead into a 70-36 advantage. UConn held Marquette without a point for over 8 minutes as the Golden Eagles missed 16 consecutive shots.
“You’re plying the best team in the country and if you don’t have 40 minutes of focus this is what happens to you,” said Marquette coach Terri Mitchell.
The Huskies have won 23 consecutive Big East home openers, 63 consecutive regular-season home games, and 144 straight games against unranked teams.
They also have gone 236 straight games without allowing an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field, holding the Golden Eagles to 26 percent and 18 field goals. The Huskies also blocked 11 shots.
Moore scored the first points of the game on a layup 15 seconds in and had 22 by halftime.
UConn opened with a 14-3 run, and another layup by Moore midway through the half made it 26-12.
Marquette got within seven when Robinson hit a layup that cut it 32-25, but Moore and Hayes answered with back-to-back 3-pointers.
Robinson hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, but the Huskies led 41-30 at the break.
Freshman Samarie Walker had a personal-best 12 rebounds for UConn.
Connecticut has never lost to Marquette, improving to 6-0 against the Golden Eagles.
UConn has given up only 165 points in the second half of games this season, or just over 20 points per game. Marquette got 17.
Connecticut last lost in the 2008 national semifinals to Stanford. Should the Huskies beat the Buckeyes, they could break the record on Dec. 21 in Hartford against Florida State.
Marquette’s Mitchell said she will be rooting for that to happen, and believes everyone in the basketball world should be talking about what UConn has accomplished.
“It’s special,” she said. “I’m watching it because it’s history. I’m living history right now and that’s worth talking about.”