The UConn women headed to Stanford with their 90-game winning streak, a tremedous sense of satisfaction but a big disadvantage in the post.

The Stefanie Dolson that UConn saw last December was not the player it would see later in the season. The December version wasn't totally prepared for the task she would face at Stanford.

But it's like they say..all good things must eventually come to an end.

By JOHN ALTAVILLA

jaltavilla@courant.com

PALO ALTO, Ca. - Geno Auriemma has said winning 90 straight games was exciting; you don't see something like this every day. But it wasn't so cool that he ever began to believe his Huskies were invincible.

Once it got rolling on Nov, 16, 2008, against Georgia Tech it just kept going, taking on a life of its own, picking up steam, two national championships and two undefeated seasons on its way to Maples Pavilion Thursday.

But he knew - everyone knew - that it had to end. Auriemma just wasn't sure which of the many maladies he'd envisioned over the years would finally bring his team down.

Well, it happened Thursday. No. 9 Stanford, the last team to beat No. 1 UConn in the national semifinals in 2008, added the other bookend to its accomplishment by defeating UConn, 71-59.

So ends the longest winning streak in NCAA basketball history, surpassing by two the number the UCLA men won under John Wooden in 1971-74.

It ended because of senior Jeanette Pohlen (31 points) and the perseverance of her teammates, who were not fazed by an 11-2 UConn run at the close of the first half and simply would not let the Huskies (12-1) come back. Stanford has won 52 in a row at home.

UConn never led, not for one second, after Pohlen's three gave Stanford a 3-0 lead.

And it ended because UConn just didn't make enough shots. The Huskies shot 20 of 60. Kelly Faris led them with 19 points. But Maya Moore (5-for-15) scored just 14, with only one free throw attempt, a miss.

The Huskies trailed 34-30 at halftime despite some real struggles from the field. But they were never able to get closer than four in the second half because Pohlen would not allow it.

She was tremendous and her two three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half helped Stanford (9-2) rebuild what was a 13-point lead in the first half to 55-44 with 8:34 to play.

The Huskies fell behind by as many as 13 points in the first 10 minutes, succumbing to Stanford's perimeter shooting, with Pohlen and Lindy La Rocque making 4 of 5 from three-point range. And the Cardinal kept the defensive pressure smoking for a long time.

The player most affected by that was Moore, UConn's leading scorer (24.8). Moore did score score for the first 16 minutes, a predicament Auriemma likely didn't expect to deal with.

But Moore's first basket, a three-pointer with 3:14 to play, keyed a late UConn run that eventually cut the 13-point lead to 34-30 at the half. Moore followed that with another three, and five free throws led an 11-2 run to the buzzer.

The Huskies made only 10 of 28 shots in the first half, 4 of 13 from three. But they were in the game and that's all they could hope for after Pohlen went off on the them for 14 in the half.

The day began with a surprise, a medical miracle or the confirmation of the misdirection play run by the UConn staff.

Three days after spraining her left foot in practice prior to the Pacific game on Tuesday, two days after basically being declared out of Thursday's game, senior guard Lorin Dixon practiced Thursday morning and played Thursday night.

This was an important event for the Huskies. While Dixon hasn't been Chris Paul during her UConn career, her speed and ability to take the ball to the basket would have been missed against Stanford's mammoth front line, which started three players over 6 feet 2.

In addressing the likely loss of Dixon on Tuesday, Auriemma lamented the loss off creativity in the lane, saying it would be much tougher for UConn to succeed without her.

She played eight minutes in the first half with two assists, one foul and one turnover.

Of course, that didn't solve the other problem vexing UConn, that of Stanford's size.

UConn's centers, freshman Stefanie Dolson and sophomore Heather Buck, have performed erratically. And Auriemma was naturally concerned that his team would be hampered if they both didn't have great games.