Huskies look to continue win streak into American tournment

Gabby Williams completes a layup during the Huskies 91-48 victory over Memphis on Feb. 27, 2017 on Senior Day. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: 2 p.m. Saturday at Mohegan Sun Ariana, Uncasville, CT

Where to Watch: Online on ESPN3

Last Meeting: UConn’s last meeting with the Memphis Tigers was on Feb. 25 at the Gampel Pavilion as the Huskies won 91-48. The Huskies’ last meeting with Tulsa was on Sun. Feb 5 at Gampel when they won 96-50.

UConn’s Last Time Out: UConn won at USF, as sophomore Napheesa Collier scored a career high 39 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the 96-68 rout.

Memphis and Tulsa will square off Friday March 3 at 4 p.m. in the first round of the AAC tournament. Memphis is the No. 8 seed while the Golden Hurricanes are the No. 9.

Projected Starting Lineup: UConn (29-0, 16-0 the American)

G: Saniya Chong—The senior points guard finished the regular season as second in the nation in assist to turnover ratio, as she was passed by senior guard Micah Jones from Western Kentucky. Chong finished fifth on the team in scoring averaging, 8.1 points per game as she accumulated 106 assists and 29 turnovers, which was good for a 3.66 ratio.

G: Crystal Dangerfield—Starting in six games this season but playing in 23, the freshman has been a vital part of the Huskies success as she came up big in the home victory against No. 2 Baylor in the second game of the year. She was 8-14 from the field and 3-5 from behind the arc for a team-high 19 points, as she averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 assists in 24.4 minutes per game.

W: Katie Lou Samuelson—The sophomore shooter finished first on the team in points per game with 20.7, as she hit a team-high 93 three pointers on 41.3 percent from the field. Her 93 three pointers are the most of any player in the league and the seventh most of anyone in the nation. Samuelson led the Huskies in total minutes played with 908 in 29 games as she took on a much bigger role then her freshman campaign. Along with junior Gabby Williams and sophomore Napheesa Collier, she was named a Naismith Trophy national semifinalist on Thursday.

G: Gabby Williams—Williams became the fifth Husky in school history to record a triple double this season as she scored 16 points and tied her career-highs in both rebounds (16) and assists (10) in a road win at East Carolina. The junior notched her 1,000th point this season in a road win at Temple on Feb. 22 and currently leads the Huskies in assists with 152 and total steals with 79. Along with Samuelson, she will be looking to become the 11th player in UConn history to win the Naismith trophy.

F: Napheesa Collier—After being left off the Naismith trophy final 20 players list, Collier rejoins her teammates Williams and Samuelson in the final 10 as she is coming off of a 39 point performance on 15-19 shooting. The sophomore was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season after her career-high performance. Collier is second on the team with 20.4 points per game and first with nine rebounds, as she is currently second in the nation in field goals made and second in field goal percentage.

Bench: G: Kia Nurse—After missing the last four games, junior Kia Nurse’s status is up in the air for Saturday’s game against Memphis or Tulsa. Before reinjuring her right ankle, the junior was averaging 12.8 points and 4.2 assists in 31.8 minutes per game. In better news for Nurse, she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team. This is the first time in her career that she has made the Academic All-America team, and she becomes the eighth different Husky player to earn the prestigious accolade.

Path to Championship: The Huskies will have to wait to see how Friday’s matchup between the Golden Hurricanes and Tigers turn out before they know their opponent, but UConn is a combined 3-0 against them this season, outscoring them by a 43 points per game.

If UConn is able to defeat either team they will play in the semifinals against either No. 5 Tulane or No. 4 UCF on Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN 2. The Tulane Green Wave almost shocked the Huskies on Feb. 18 in New Orleans, as the Huskies escaped 63-60. This game came five days following the Huskies winning their 100th straight game as it was also the first game without junior Kia Nurse. Tulane would be the scarier matchup for UConn, as the Huskies defeated UCF 84-48 in Orlando on Jan. 1 and are an all-time 5-0 against the Knights.

With a win over the Knights or Green Wave, UConn would advance to the finals on Monday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2. The likely matchup for the Huskies would be either two seed Temple or three seed USF, as both teams have been nationally ranked this season. Against those two teams, UConn holds a 32-0 record, including outscoring USF by 46.5 points and Temple by 36.5 points this season.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.