HARTFORD, Conn. -- Tiffany Hayes had no doubts that the NCAA record 90-game winning streak that she was a part of during her career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team would be broken.
The 2012 UConn graduate and guard for the WNBA's Atlanta Dream also had the perfect candidate to do it -- her alma mater.
"I did think someone would break it, and when I did I thought about keeping it in the family," Hayes said after watching the Huskies beat Central Florida at CFE Arena in Orlando on New Year's Day. "That is what's happening so I'm really happy about it. We took a lot of pride when we set the record and I hope this team is taking pride in what they're doing. What they're doing is great. And if they are going to do this, do it right."
The top-ranked Huskies matched their own mark of 90 consecutive wins Tuesday night with a 102-37 rout of South Florida in an American Athletic Conference contest at the XL Center. They'll go for the record breaker Saturday when they face SMU at Moody Coliseum in Dallas (SNY, 3 p.m.).
Hayes and three-time Wade Trophy winner and 2011 graduate Maya Moore were the only players to see action in every contest of UConn's first 90-game winning streak that broke the previous mark of 70 that the Huskies also owned (2001-03).
It began on Nov. 16, 2008, with a win over Georgia Tech at Gampel Pavilion and lasted through a pair of 39-0 national championship seasons and then 12 victories during the 2010-11 campaign. It ended with an 80-68 loss to Stanford on Dec. 30, 2010, at Maples Pavilion.
"The most exciting part was absolutely the extraordinary basketball we were playing," Moore said in an e-mail. "The confidence and competitiveness that we brought every day was so rewarding to be a part of. We knew that losing was possible, but we wanted to make sure that if we did lose, it would be because a team outright beat us. And that didn't happen for two and half seasons!
"The pressure we put on ourselves to compete was much higher than any outside pressure put on us."
While UConn's 71st straight win -- which came against Notre Dame in the 2010 Big East tournament -- didn't draw all that much attention, the Huskies' chase of the 88-win run by the UCLA men from 1971-74 caught the nation's imagination. Their 88th straight win over Ohio State on Dec. 19, 2010, drew a crowd of 15,232 to Madison Square Garden. Win No. 89 two days later over Florida State at the XL Center -- with Moore scoring a career high 41 points -- drew a packed house of 16,294.
Tuesday night's crowd, while enthusiastic, was just 10,109.
The 2010-11 team had to replace graduated All-American Tina Charles and Kalana Greene and also lost point guard Caroline Doty to the third ACL surgery on her left knee. Freshmen Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson played key roles in the streak going forward.
"The toughest part was after we won the two championships was transitioning to another year and a new team," Hayes said. "I was one of the older players but we had a lot of young players on that (2010-11) team, just like this team has quite a few young players."
The current Huskies, of course, had to replace the top three picks in the 2016 WNBA Draft: three-time Player of the Year Breanna Stewart and All-Americans Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.
But sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier have made huge jumps in their games while juniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams have been solid for the most part and at other times spectacular. Senior Saniya Chong may have played the best game of her career Tuesday night.
Nurse and Williams are the only Huskies to play in all 90 games of the current streak.
"I thought our record was safe," Moore said. "But as the last graduating class, as well as current players, continued to develop, I thought they had a good chance to catch us."
After overcoming second-half deficits to beat Florida State and Baylor in their first two games, the Huskies have not trailed at any point in a month. They own wins over eight top-25 teams.
They also don't play another ranked team for a month.
"It seems like they have jelled very quickly," Hayes said. "Every time you think they're going to be tested, they've prevailed every time. That impresses me a lot."
The one common thread between the two 90-win streaks: coach Geno Auriemma.
Moore, who has won three WNBA titles in six years with the Minnesota Lynx and two FIBA world championship and two Olympic gold medals with Auriemma's United States national team, isn't surprised the Hall-of-Fame coach has the Huskies in this position again.
"It is remarkable the amount of investment Geno and all of the staff pour into us as players every single day," Moore said. "I don't think, looking in from the outside, you can really understand the amount of work and wisdom it takes to continue to do the high level feats everyone expects you to do. I am amazed at the continued excellence."
Hayes and Moore know there's a good chance their winning streak will be reduced to second place come Saturday.
But they'll be totally behind the Huskies' bid for more history.
"I want them to keep it going," Hayes said, "to make sure that no one breaks their record for a long time."