The UConn women's basketball team got back to No. 1 in the Associated Press poll the old-fashioned way - by earning it.
The Huskies were rewarded for their overtime win a week ago over then-No. 1 South Carolina by moving up one place and past the Gamecocks into the top spot in the Associated Press poll released today. UConn (16-1) received 26 first-place votes and four second-place votes from the 30-member nationwide panel to easily outdistance South Carolina. The Gamecocks (17-2) got two first-place votes and 700 points.
"We definitely have been getting better," UConn guard Evina Westbrook said. "We're always going to have a target on our heads regardless if we're No. 1 or No. 12 because of what it says on our jersey. We have to make sure that we're locking down in practice. Everyone's tired at this point. We have to make sure that we play UConn basketball."
Louisville (19-1) remained third with 675 points and North Carolina State (13-2) fourth with 642 points. Texas A&M (19-1) moved up one spot to fifth with one first-place vote and 639 points, flipping places with Stanford (18-2). The Cardinal received the final first-place vote and 627 points.
Baylor (16-2), UCLA (12-3), Maryland (14-2), and Arizona (14-2) rounded out the top 10. DePaul (11-4) was again the only other Big East team besides UConn to receive votes as the Blue Devils moved up three spots to a tie for 19th.
It is a record 246th week atop the AP poll for the Huskies since being ranked No. 1 for the first time on Jan. 17, 1995. They have been the top-ranked team at some point nine consecutive years and 22 of the last 27 seasons. The only misses in that span are 1997-98, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2011-12.
"It becomes a little more meaningful or significant, whatever the word you want to use, when you see some programs and where they were nine years ago and where they're at today," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Being that consistent, it does bring a sense that we're fortunate enough that we do put ourselves in that position every year.
"My goal is not to be No. 1 on Feb. 15, don't get me wrong. It's always been my goal to make sure every year that we're in the conversation, we're in contention, and that we have a chance and opportunity to compete for a national championship. Some years we have a better chance than others. For years, we've been able to do it through a lot of different players and a lot of different changes. Some years it works out and we finish No. 1. Other years it doesn't. That's not the key to success is every season winning the national championship and being No. 1 in the country. I more than anyone else know how difficult it is to do that. The real success is putting yourself in that group each and every single year. That's something for us to be proud of, for sure."
UConn spent three weeks at No. 1 a year ago before losing to Baylor at the XL Center in Hartford on Jan. 8, 2020.
The Huskies improved to 22-3 in games featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP poll with their win over South Carolina and followed up with victories over Seton Hall and Georgetown.
Up next for UConn is a game at St. John's on Wednesday. Tip at Carnesecca Arena is scheduled for 6 p.m.
With Paige Bueckers, it's always something.
The Huskies' guard made Big East history on Monday becoming the first freshman to sweep the Big East Player of the Week and the Big East Freshman of the Week award twice.
A week ago, the Eden Prairie, Minnesota native became the fourth Big East player to win both awards joining fellow UConn standout Maya Moore (March 4, 2008), Marquette’s Allazia Blockton (Feb. 15, 2016), and Villanova's Maddy Siegrist (Dec. 23, 2019).
Bueckers averaged 24.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 3.0 steals in UConn's wins over South Carolina, Seton Hall, and Georgetown. Against the then-No. 1 Gamecocks at Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 8, she scored the Huskies' final four points in regulation and all nine in overtime to lift her team to a 63-59 victory. Her 31-point performance made her the first UConn player in program history to have three straight 30-point games. She would add 23 points against Seton Hall Wednesday and 19 points along with nine assists Friday at Georgetown.
For the season, Bueckers -- an eight-time Big East Freshman of the Week -- is averaging 21.1 points on 56.7 percent shooting from the floor, 4.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.4 steals.
Enfield native Mary Baskerville and East Hartford native Desiree Elmore were named to the Big East weekly honor roll.
Baskerville, a junior forward at Providence, averaged 16.5 points on 60.0 percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 3.0 blocked shots in a 1-1 week for the Friars. She notched a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) in Wednesday’s win at Creighton and a game-high 19 points in a loss to Marquette.
Elmore, a senior forward at Seton Hall, averaged 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in a 1-2 week for the Pirates. The Capital Prep graduate had 15 points in a win over Georgetown on Feb. 8, 12 points in a loss to UConn Wednesday, and a double-double (25 points, career-best 17 rebounds) in Saturday’s loss to Creighton.
Joining Baskerville and Elmore on the honor roll were Creighton's Tatum Rembao, DePaul's Lexi Held, Marquette's Jordan King, and St. John's Leilani Correa.