Women’s Basketball: UConn hosts Memphis to begin AAC play

 UConn guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson goes up for a layup in the Huskies' 88-64 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Charlotte Lao, Associate Photo Editor/The Daily Campus)

UConn guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson goes up for a layup in the Huskies' 88-64 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Charlotte Lao, Associate Photo Editor/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s basketball team went 16-0 in American Athletic Conference play last season, in addition to a conference tournament run that ended with a 100-44 victory over USF to win the American Championship.

This season, No. 1 UConn (10-0) heads into conference play with an undefeated record as the Huskies look to continue their dominance of the American. The conference opener against Memphis on Sunday afternoon will be UConn’s first game after the eight-day holiday break.

Memphis (5-8) comes to the XL Center playing its best basketball of the season. After a brutal stretch to begin the season that saw the Tigers lose eight consecutive games, Memphis has rebounded to win each of its last four.

The Tigers are led by senior forward Cheyenne Creighton, who averages 15.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Creighton has recorded eight double-doubles this season, ranking tenth in Division I. The player with the most double-doubles this season is former UConn center Natalie Butler, who has recorded 13 during her first season as a graduate transfer at George Mason.

Creighton and UConn guard Kia Nurse are both from Ontario, Canada and each is enjoying a successful senior season. In UConn’s last time out, the Huskies traveled to Canada for a special homecoming game for Nurse in Toronto, Ontario. Nurse scored 24 points in front of her hometown fans as UConn dominated Duquesne 104-52.

UConn will come into Sunday’s game well-rested, which specifically benefits leading scorer Katie Lou Samuelson. Samuelson has been in-and-out of the Huskies lineup with foot injuries this season, missing four entire games as well as parts of a couple others. Samuelson has averaged 20.5 points this season, leading the Huskies.

Six Huskies are averaging at least 10 points per game this season, as Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Azurá Stevens, Crystal Dangerfield and Gabby Williams join Samuelson as the top scoring threats. Memphis has just two players averaging double-digit points.

UConn has won all seven games against Memphis in the all-time series, including a 91-48 win in last year’s only meeting. In that game, Samuelson scored 29 points to lead the Huskies and Creighton recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers.

Sunday’s game will tip off at 1:30 p.m. as the Huskies play their last game of 2017 on New Year’s Eve. It will be “Fan Appreciation Day” for UConn, and the game will be aired on SNY and ESPN3.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.