Women's Basketball: Undefeated Huskies look to halt hot Owls

UConn women's basketball forward Breanna Stewart looks for a pass during the Huskies' exhibition game against Vanguard at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (Ashley Maher/The Daily Campus)

Less than a week after rounding out their non-conference schedule with a 66-54 win on the road against No. 2 South Carolina, the UConn women’s basketball team hits the road once again to resume conference play Sunday against Temple.

After a 25-point, 10-rebound and five-block performance against the No. 2 Gamecocks, Breanna Stewart has once again come within striking distance of moving up on a laundry list of career-high program records. The senior forward is 16 rebounds away from tying Jamelle Elliott for fifth all-time in program history and nine blocks from tying Kara Wolters for second in career blocks.

Senior point guard Moriah Jefferson is also knocking on the door of a major milestone, as the Glen Heights, Texas native is six assists shy of tying the legendary Sue Bird for fourth all-time in career assists. With Jefferson averaging 5.6 assists per game this season and 5.2 assists per game all-time vs Temple, Jefferson could easily pass one of the greatest point guards in program history against the Owls.

UConn and Temple last met on Jan. 16, with the Huskies (23-0, 12-0 the American) cruising to a 104-49 win over the Owls (17-7, 11-2 the American) in just their second game of the season at Gampel Pavilion. Stewart led all scorers with 22 points in the win, and freshman Katie Lou Samuelson had a breakout performance, scoring 21 points and shooting 5-8 from the three-point line.

After scoring in double-digits in the first five games following the win over the Owls, Samuelson has struggled recently in the Huskies’ last two wins, totaling just five points, three rebounds and two assists in her last two games.

Unlike Samuelson, the Owls welcome the Huskies to Philadelphia hotter than ever and in the midst of a five-game win streak, their second win streak of five games this season. Temple’s current win streak includes blowouts against SMU and Cincinnati and is highlighted by a 68-66 win over South Florida on Feb. 6.

The Owls boast three players averaging double figures, led by Alliya Butts’ 15.9 points per game. Feyonda Fitzgerald and Tanaya Atkinson are second and third in scoring with 13.5 and 11.7 points per game respectively. Butts led Temple with 12 points in loss to the Huskies in January, followed by 11 points from Khadijah Berger. The duo were the only two Owls in double figures.

In the win over USF, Atkinson and Butts were two of four Temple players in double figures, and the team capitalized off of 16 South Florida turnovers to help pull off the upset. With UConn less likely to turn over the ball, the Owls will need to score off turnovers every chance they have, and be more efficient from the three-point line than they were against the Bulls, where they shot 33 percent on 8-24 shooting.

Sunday’s Valentine’s Day matchup between the Owls and Huskies will tip off at McGonigle Hall. The game can be seen on ESPN2.


Dan Madigan is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.madigan@uconn.edu. He tweets @dmad1433