PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Kelly Faris is not one to live in the past. There has always a game to win and a championship to chase in the present.
But when a player has endured only seven losses in 125 games during three-plus years as a member of the UConn women's basketball team, the past has a tendency to linger. One of the defeats that still stands out for Faris is the 71-59 loss at Stanford Dec. 30, 2010.
Not only did it end the Huskies' NCAA record 90-game winning streak, it was a game in which they did not play well. Faris said they did not finish the game strong, instead allowing the Cardinal to outwork them.
Faris can help No. 2 UConn erase a bitter memory today when it faces No. 1 Stanford in a battle of unbeatens at sold-out Maples Pavilion (4; ESPNU). It will mark the fourth time that the teams will meet as the nation's top-two ranked teams in The Associated Press national poll.
"Any loss is going to be frustrating and stick with you," Faris said. "But at that point it was definitely a hard one because everybody thought that we were unstoppable. For me, being my senior year and coming back, I definitely want to leave here with a different feeling and a lot better record here."
The Huskies (10-0) will again be shorthanded up front as sophomore center Kiah Stokes will miss her third straight game due to a stress reaction in her right shin. Freshman forward Morgan Tuck, who has missed the last two games with a right knee bone bruise, is listed as questionable.
Perhaps the biggest difference for UConn as it returns to the West Coast to face Stanford (11-0) is that it boasts a much more balanced offensive attack. The game plan for the Cardinal two years ago was to contain All-American Maya Moore. And it worked as she finished with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field.
But led by star freshman Breanna Stewart (16.9 ppg.) and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (16.4), the Huskies possess multiple options offensively. Seven players are averaging at least 8.0 points on a team that is averaging 88.1 and shooting 54.0 percent from the field.
"`We have, at all times, five people on the court that can score," UConn All-American Bria Hartley said. "So it's going to be hard for teams to defend that and if we go out and we're able to take care of the ball and get good shots, we're going to make most of them. It forces you to guard everyone."
The game marks the 51st time that the top two teams in The Associated Press Poll will meet since the inception of the poll during the 1976-77 season. The No. 1 team has won nine straight meetings and is 31-19 overall. The No. 2 team has not won since No. 2 North Carolina defeated No. 1 Duke 77-65 at home Feb. 25, 2006.
A win would move UConn into the No. 1 spot in the poll for the first time since final three weeks of the 2010-11 season.
The Huskies are 13-3 all-time in games between the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country. The Cardinal are 1-7 in 1 vs. 2 games, with their only win coming in a 74-65 victory over No. 2 Alabama at Maples Pavilion Nov. 17, 1996.
"(Today) we'll find out a lot about our team," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Being on the road, being in a tough place to play, (playing) a really good team that's obviously really, really good at home."
Led by junior All-American Chiney Ogwumike, who is averaging 21.8 points and 12.8 rebounds, Stanford has won 82 straight games at home. It is the second longest streak in Division I history behind UConn's run of 99 straight that ended last season. The Cardinal have not lost at home since a 68-61 loss to Florida State March 19, 2007.
"We are extremely mentally tough," Ogwumike said. "We don't get too high. We don't get too low. We sort of have low blood pressures, which is very funny. So when the game is tough we try not to react too much. And I think that really helps us a lot.''
This is shaping up to be another memorable installment in a high-profile series that has seen the teams play once in the NCAA regional semifinals (2005), three times in the NCAA national semifinals (1995, 2008-09) and in the national championship game in 2010 among the first 13 games in the series.
Both teams are confident. Both teams have star power. And right now Stanford, which defeated then-No. 1 Baylor 71-69 Nov. 16, is embracing its hold on the top spot in the polls.
``We know that our target on our back is growing bigger and bigger,'' Stanford senior Joslyn Tinkle said. "And people want what we have and we're willing to do whatever it takes to remain No. 1 and to keep that target on our back. I feel like it's going to be a great game. They're a fantastic team. And it's going to really come down to whose will is bigger to win. And we're hoping that it's ours and we're excited for it.''
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