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BALLOT BREAKDOWN: Undefeated UConn still No. 1

The Associated Press
No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville, 68-48
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Louisville's Sara Hammond, left, puts up a shot over the defense of Connecticut's Stefanie Dolson …

Connecticut continued its stay atop The Associated Press women's basketball poll for another week.

UConn has won 37 straight games dating to last season's NCAA championship run, the third-longest winning streak in school history. The Huskies routed No. 3 Louisville 68-48 on Monday night. Up next is the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.

Here are five things to know about this week's poll:

DEFENSIVE EFFORT: As good as they are offensively, the Huskies are putting up record numbers on defense. UConn is holding opponents to 29.9 percent shooting from the field. That's slightly ahead of the NCAA record set by the 2010 Connecticut squad, which allowed teams to shoot 30.0 percent.

''We just go out and play defense and figure out what we've got to do to stop people and shut them down and we do it,'' coach Geno Auriemma said. ''Some of the teams that we've had are better defensive teams than others. And I don't particularly think this is anything new at Connecticut where all of a sudden we're a good defensive team. It's been going on for a long, long time.''

UConn is slightly behind the school record of 46.2 points per game allowed set that same season. This season's team has given up an average of 46.6 points. The success all comes down to a trust that the Huskies have in each other.

''Our guards and our perimeter defense know that if they do get beat not to foul them because we have people that can contest shots or alter shots behind them,'' UConn sophomore Breanna Stewart said. ''To be able to have that kind of trust in your teammates is really helpful and it seems to be working and we're just trying to perfect it in practice.''

CRUISING IRISH: Just as it has done all season long, Notre Dame ran through its final stretch of the regular season with easy victories over Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State during an eight-day stretch. The Irish beat those three ranked teams by a combined 60 points.

''It wasn't easy - every game was a battle,'' senior Natalie Achonwa said. ''It's definitely great to be part of the ACC, and I think we just took it in stride and are really excited to be at this point and to be undefeated going into the postseason.

''The season ends now,'' she added, ''and now we're about to start a new one.''

BIG WINS: Tennessee and West Virginia both came away with huge victories last weekend, upending South Carolina and Baylor, respectively. The Lady Vols and Mountaineers each moved up four spots in the poll to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.

Tennessee wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament with its 12-point victory over South Carolina. West Virginia handed Baylor its first conference home loss in four years. The teams are tied atop the Big 12 standings with one game left in the regular season.

''I told the girls, I'm very proud of them. Win or lose, we played hard. I just felt like the first time we played them, we weren't aggressive at all - offensively, defensively - kind of sitting back, kind of intimidated,'' West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. ''This game, win or lose, I thought we were aggressive. I just wanted everybody to know that we showed up today, and our girls did a good job of that.''

BIG EAST CHAMPS: DePaul earned the first Big East title in school history with Saturday's victory over St. John's, coupled with Creighton's last-second loss to Marquette. The Blue Demons have won 12 of their last 13 games and re-entered the poll at No. 25.

''Any time you win a championship it's a great thing,'' DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. ''We've only hit the tip of the iceberg with the potential on this team and we're starting to play well at the right time.''

TOURNAMENT TIME: With most conference tournaments beginning this week, teams are starting to get that one-and-done mentality. It's a final chance for them to make an impression on the NCAA tournament committee to either improve seeding or play their way in or, in a worst-case scenario, out of the tournament field.

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