STORRS, Conn. -- Thousands of fans filed into Gampel Pavilion on Monday night to see No. 1 Connecticut take on No. 6 South Carolina. Among them, filling nearly an entire row, sat a pantheon of Huskies legends: Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, Caroline Doty, Bria Hartley and Tina Charles to name a few. Even U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe was in the stands.
Connecticut rolls deep.
The former Huskies screamed and cheered along with the crowd as UConn wrapped up a 66-55 win -- the team's 100th consecutive victory. It was a great moment for the recent graduates as they witnessed the current crop of Huskies carrying on the torch. Especially since few thought UConn would reach this point when the season started.
"To be here in person is amazing," Stewart said. "Everyone doubted this team, but they've pushed through and gotten better."
As the clock ticked away the remaining seconds, the crowd's roar increased. The jumping of the student section shook the floor. After the last buzzer, faux $100 bills with Geno Auriemma's face printed on them rained from the ceiling. That's definitely an upgrade from confetti.
It's not uncommon to see many former UConn greats in the stands. Tuck, for example, has been to a number of games this season. But such a collection of stars in one room is special even by UConn standards.
"The one thing about this program that is different from any other program I've seen is the family feel and how we all stay together," Bird said. "You look in the stands at the alumni, and some of us might have played together in college, but there could also be a five-, six-, seven-, eight-, nine-, 10-year age gap. And yet, you never would know it."
For most of the group, attending Monday's game wasn't a matter of a quick drive down the road. This was the only game Bird -- who plays for the Seattle Storm nearly 3,000 miles away during the WNBA season -- could make so far this season, and she felt lucky to witness it.
"Had they been playing Tulane for the 97th win, I still would be here. But it happened to be this game and I'm glad I didn't miss it," she said.
Gampel rocked all night as UConn picked up steam toward its victory. It is the longest streak in NCAA Division I basketball history, men's or women's. UConn broke the previous record of 90 games (which was set by UConn in 2008-2010) with a win against SMU on Jan. 14, 2017.
Moore, now a star in the WNBA for the Minnesota Lynx, played on that original record-setting team, and knows what it's like to compete under such intense pressure. One hundred straight wins doesn't just happen, and it takes immense will to get there.
"The pressure is coming from ourselves and wanting to be great," Moore said. "This is so much harder than they make it look, but the preparation, the dedication and the commitment from the coaching staff all the way down to the last player on the bench is what makes it happen."
The alumni in attendance did not go unnoticed by the current players and staff. In fact, their presence loomed large over the court.
"There are a lot of good players sitting in the stands tonight, and when I turned around and looked at [our] bench one time, I almost called a couple of them down," Auriemma said. "There were a lot of wins in the stands, and a lot of championships."
And once the final buzzer sounded, amidst the cameras and microphones, the Huskies -- former and new -- rushed to take one big, family photo. They crowded around one another, their numbers stretching across the many great UConn teams in the past two decades.
UConn alumni return to Storrs for big games -- but also just to be present within the program and support the current players.
"You see different players coming back every year to be around the team," junior guard Kia Nurse said. "They give us advice and that kind of stuff. It's a testament to the legacy that was built way before all of us got here. We understand that those people built this into what it is today."
At their core, though, this group loves their alma mater and former team. They are confident that the current Huskies will continue the legacy.
As for how to break the streak, well, Morgan Tuck had some thoughts on that.
"I think somebody has to play a perfect game and [Connecticut] has to be off," she said. "But I don't think it's going to happen."