With an 88-47 rout of North Carolina, UConn elevated its winning legacy to the forefront of women’s college basketball.
But UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell wanted the game to remain elsewhere.
Deep in the recesses of the team’s memory.
“I just told the players, I said, ‘Forget this game was ever played,’” Hatchell said in a statement provided by the UNC athletic department.
“Just go home and get ready for the ACC.’”
Though the game showcased two premiere programs, the 41-point loss reduced No. 7 North Carolina to just another one of the top-ranked Huskies’ victims.
Its 54th straight, to be specific.
“They just showed my young team there’s another level that we haven’t reached yet,” Hatchell said.
To be fair, that level has only been surpassed by one other team — an earlier Geno Auriemma-coached Huskies squad.
UConn lays claim to the longest streak, with 70 consecutive wins between 2001 and 2003.
UNC (13-2) entered the game with its own impressive resume — winning by an average of 25.5 points.
But still, Hatchell was forced to repeat the same sentiments she expressed after last season’s 88-58 loss to UConn.
“This may be the best team that Geno’s had,” she said.
Among four UConn scorers who finished in double figures, one stood apart.
Huskies center Tina Charles finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds after a dominating first-half performance. All her points came in the first period.
“Charles, she put on a show,” Hatchell said. “She was unbelievable.”
UNC led 10-7 after a three-pointer by sophomore guard She’la White, who led UNC in scoring with nine points.
But the Tar Heels quickly relinquished the lead — overwhelmed by Charles’ aggressive presence in the paint.
“We did a good job of getting the ball to (Charles) early,” Auriemma said, as quoted on UConn’s athletic Web site. “We had a very aggressive mind-set and we were looking for her.”
Charles had already recorded 11 points by the time Hatchell called her first timeout with 12 minutes remaining in the half.
Charles’ play initiated a 23-0 run for the Huskies (15-0). White finally ended the seven-minute scoring drought when she drained a 3-pointer to bring the score to 30-13.
By halftime, UConn had already mounted a 56-24 lead. Charles outscored UNC 25-24, hitting 11 of her 14 shots.
“I was doing everything that my team needed me to do,” Charles said on the UConn athletic site.
Midway through the second half, the Huskies didn’t need her anymore.
With a 34-point lead, Charles left the game nine minutes into the second half.
On the other hand, UNC suffered its lowest offensive output of the season.
The Tar Heels, who have averaged 46 percent from the field, shot just 22 percent. The 17-of-76 performance marked the team’s worst shooting performance of the year.
“I though we’d be able to stop some things they were doing,” Hatchell said. “Hopefully we’ll keep working and get better.”
But Moore shared a sentiment about her teammate that the Tar Heels would come to learn by game’s end.
“When we have performances like that from (Charles), we just feel unstoppable.”
Read our further coverage of the UNC v. UConn game.
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