Women’s Basketball: Auriemma aims for No. 999 in likely 3-point shootout with DePaul

Crystal Dangerfield runs the offense with Geno Auriemma looking on in the background. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The No. 1 UConn women’s basketball team will play one more game this weekend before taking a week off for final exams. The Huskies head to Chicago to take on DePaul on Friday night in what could be head coach Geno Auriemma’s 999th career win.

Auriemma’s team will be hoping for the return of Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams, who both left the game against Notre Dame with injuries. Samuelson rolled her ankle and Williams suffered from migraine headaches, but both could be back in the starting lineup Friday night.

“We’re still going day-by-day…I want to play, and I also don’t want to be dealing with this ankle injury,” Samuelson said. “There’s a lot of things that I would want to happen right now, but we’re still going to see every day how I feel.”

As for Williams, Auriemma said she looked good in Wednesday’s practice, but will also be considered day-by-day.

“Thursday, we’ll see how it goes, and then Friday we’ll see how it goes,” Auriemma said. “Right now, more than anything, we’re just trying to help her with the frustration of it all.”

UConn (7-0) is 14-1 in the all-time series with DePaul, including 14 straight victories since the series opener in 1983.

DePaul (6-2) has received votes in each edition of the AP Top 25 Poll after being ranked No. 25 in the Preseason Poll. The Blue Demons are riding a three-game winning streak heading into the matchup with the Huskies.

DePaul averages the third-most points in Division I, scoring 92 points per game on the back of stellar 3-point shooting. Averaging 37.5 attempts and 13.6 made 3-pointers per game, the Blue Demons are easily the most lethal team in Division I from beyond the arc.

“Thirty-seven threes, even if you’re lousy, that’s still a lot of makes,” Auriemma said. “We just gotta make sure we go out and we manage the game the way we want the game to go…They’re gonna play the way they’re gonna play, and all you can do is make sure you don’t get caught up in the craziness of it.”

The Blue Demons are led by a group of six players scoring at least 10.9 points per game. Standing out from that group is sophomore guard Kelly Campbell, who leads the team with 5.6 assists per game and is second with 5.8 rebounds per game and 14 steals on the season. Campbell nearly recorded a triple-double against Gonzaga earlier this season, scoring 19 points with eight rebounds and eight assists.

After Friday’s game, UConn will get 10 full days of much-needed rest as the student-athletes focus on finals. Ten days is an eternity for the Huskies, who haven’t received more than four days off between games since the season started on Nov. 12.

“To be challenged in the way that we have and to play the great competition that we do is always great,” UConn senior Kia Nurse said. “But at the same time, when you can kind of slow down for a second, catch your breath and get back into the swing of things, get back into a routine and be home for a little bit, it’s always exciting as well.”

But a quality DePaul team remains the main focus for UConn. The Huskies and Blue Demons will tip off on Friday at 7 p.m. on FS1 in Chicago.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.