Story was updated Jan. 29, 2016
After two convincing road wins, the UConn women’s basketball team returns home Saturday to take on Memphis in their final home game at the XL Center this season.
“Since the first Memphis game, we’ve really played well on both ends of the floor,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “That’s mostly been driven by our defense, and hopefully tomorrow we can continue that.”
The Huskies are just days removed from a 94-30 road win over Tulsa for their 56th-straight victory. The 64-point margin of victory was the largest for UConn (19-0, 9-0 the American) this season and marked the fifth-straight game the Huskies have one by 40 or more points. It was also the third time UConn won by 60 or more points this season.
In the win over the Golden Hurricane, Breanna Stewart reached another historic milestone with her 24-point, 10 rebound performance. After hauling in three rebounds in the first quarter, the senior forward became the sixth player in UConn history to record 1,000 career rebounds. Stewart also chipped in five assists and four blocks on the night.
Stewart’s frontcourt companion Morgan Tuck practiced for the first in over a week on Friday, primarily in half court sets. While it is not impossible for her to suit up against Memphis, Auriemma and Tuck won’t make a decision until game day.
“Tuck doesn’t screw around. She knows her body better than anybody,” Auriemma said. “We’ll see how she feels at the end of the day and we’ll go from there.”
Memphis heads to Hartford as winners of their last three games, including an 88-87 victory over USF on Jan. 20. Since the win over the Bulls, the Tigers (12-9, 6-4 the American) have posted double-digit victories against Tulsa and UCF in their last two games.
Senior guard Ariel Hearn shined in the win over the Knights, posting 12 points and 10 assists with five steals in the victory. Hearn is currently eighth in the American Athletic Conference in scoring with 14.5 points per game and third in steals with 2.5.
Hearn had some success against the Huskies in their previous matchup, as Hearn, Mooriah Rowser and Brea Elmore chipped in 12 each in the Tigers’ 86-46 loss to the Huskies on Jan. 13. Hearn was efficient from the floor, hitting four of her five shots, including both three-pointers while adding four assists and four rebounds.
With UConn’s defense coming off their best game of the season, Hearn will be in for a struggle to repeat her performance. After holding Tulsa to 30 points, the lowest total the Huskies have allowed this season, Memphis will need to continue to be efficient as they have this season, as the Tigers are currently third in the American in field goal percentage at 42.3 percent.
As the senior class takes the court one last time at the XL Center, Stewart and Moriah Jefferson look to go on top to an impressive four years in Hartford. Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck boast a 25-1 regular season record at the XL Center, suffering their last regular-season loss in Hartford to Baylor on Feb. 18, 2013.
Overall, the senior class is 27-2 at the XL Center, as the 2013 Huskies won two games in the Big East Conference Tournament before falling to Notre Fame in the championship game on March 12, 2013.
“XL is a nice home away from home if that makes sense because it’s not on campus” Stewart said. “It’s a great atmosphere, and we want to make sure that we end our careers on a great note.”
UConn and Memphis will tip-off at 12 p.m. The game can be seen on SNY.