Aaliyah Edwards scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the No. 11 UConn women’s basketball team gave coach Geno Auriemma his 1,200th career victory Wednesday by routing Seton Hall 67-34.
Auriemma became a bit nostalgic after becoming just the third coach in Division I basketball history to reach 1,200 wins, joining former Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,202) and Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer (1,206).
After breaking open a piñata with his team and being showered with confetti and balloons in the locker room, Auriemma’s thoughts went back to a 1987 doubleheader in Hartford with the UConn men’s team, when about 50 people showed up early to watch the women beat Central Connecticut.
On Wednesday night, there were more than 14,000 fans on hand in the same building, including thousands of little girls, dozens of whom waited by the tunnel for a photo or autograph with one of their heroes.
“We created a subculture that didn’t exist,” Auriemma said. “It wasn’t there. And through a lot of hard work and a lot of people putting a lot of hard work into it, a culture was born out of nothing.
Though he remains third on the wins list, Auriemma’s accomplishment is unprecedented in several ways.
He got to 1,200 wins faster than anyone else, reaching the milestone in his 39th season. Krzyzewski coached for 47 years, and VanDerveer is in her 45th season.
And unlike Krzyzewski, who also coached at Army, and VanDerveer, who was at Idaho and Ohio State before Stanford, Auriemma has done it all at UConn.
He turned UConn from a program that had just one winning season before he arrived in 1985 to a perennial title contender. In addition to their 11 titles, the Huskies have been to 22 Final Fours and recorded six perfect seasons. His teams haven’t won fewer than 25 games in a season since 1992-93.
The women’s game began to grow, Auriemma said, when fathers began seeing their little girls watch players such as Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore and began understanding the power of women’s sports in creating role models.
Current Huskies star Paige Bueckers, the 2021 National Player of the Year, said she was one of those little girls.
“Just coming here, being a part of this legacy, being a part of the program that he and [associate head coach Chris Dailey] have built and all the alums, it’s just a blessing,” said Bueckers, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half for the Huskies, who reached 20 wins for the 31st consecutive season. “It’s amazing. It’s what you dreamt of as a kid is coming to be part of this amazing program.”
Auriemma was quick to point out that Dailey has been with him for all 1,200 wins and is a big reason for the program’s success.
But he was again cryptic when asked how long he might continue to coach, saying he won’t be adding hundreds of more wins, but “more along the line of single digits” and that there isn’t any number or “whale” that he’s chasing.
“I could probably say, with a great deal of certainty, that I’ll never be No. 1 in wins, I don’t think that will happen,” he said. “And I’m still going to enjoy my wine and I’m going to sleep good tonight.”
Edwards opened the game with a layup as the Huskies scored the first seven points and never trailed. Edwards went on to get her 11th double-double of the season and 28th of her career.
The Huskies have won 21 straight games against Big East opponents since losing at Marquette in February 2023.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.