- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HARTFORD, CONN. (AP) - With a minute left, Maya Moore stood up on the bench and whirled a towel above her head, the grin on her face so bright it could light up all of Connecticut.

Just when it seems there’s nothing more she can do, the senior All-American finds a way to dazzle anew. In a game for the ages, Moore put on a performance that was more than equal to the occasion.

“Every night when you need her to be at her best, she’s at her best,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

And because of that, top-ranked UConn has surpassed the 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team from 1971-74. Moore had a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday night, setting the tone as Connecticut blew by No. 22 Florida State 93-62 for win No. 89 in a row.

“You take those 41 away and it’s a little better ballgame,” Seminoles coach Sue Semrau said. “She’s as tough as nails.”

Moore has been the constant in these 89 games, a streak that has spanned 2 1/2 seasons and two national titles. Like Diana Taurasi, Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird and all the other UConn greats who came before her, she is as driven as she is gifted. She takes over games when she needs to, finds ways to make her teammates better and never, ever stops working.

Just as UCLA had Bill Walton, UConn has Maya Moore.

“They are really a special, special team and with a leader like Maya Moore, they can do special things,” Semrau said.

Florida State managed to stay close for the first 2 minutes, and that was long enough for Moore. With the game tied at 6, she scored seven points during a 15-2 run to gave Connecticut its first double-digit lead, and extended the lead to 34-15 with a fadeaway jumper from the baseline.

Florida State (9-3) made a quick run to cut the lead to 11, but Moore and the Huskies weren’t about to let anyone spoil this night.

UConn ripped off the next 16 points, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from freshman Bria Hartley and a pull-up by Moore.

At halftime, it was Florida State 27, Moore 26.

But even with the game in hand, Moore kept pushing. She hustled for rebounds, dove for loose balls and barked at her younger teammates when they missed their assignments on defense. Part of the reason UConn has been so spectacular for so long is the older players are as hard on the newcomers as Auriemma is, demanding they live up to the program’s tradition. Moore is no different.

Her influence can already be seen on Hartley, who scored 21 points and shot 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

“We value the intangibles,” Moore said. “To come to practice, to work as hard as we do, to focus as much as we do, to be aware, to pay attention, to put that much emotional energy and effort into everything we do on the court, it’s remarkable.”

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