Women’s Basketball: Huskies host Temple in XL Center finale

That final stretch begins Sunday as UConn and Temple will tip off at 2 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

Six days removed from a 69-58 victory over No. 4 Louisville, the UConn women’s basketball team will get back into American Athletic Conference play with a matchup against Temple. The Sunday matinee matchup with the Owls will be UConn’s final game in the XL Center this season.

Monday’s win over the Cardinals provided the No. 1 Huskies with a test they haven’t truly received in the American. UConn (25-0, 12-0 the American) has gone undefeated in conference play, having never won by less than 18 points in such games.

UConn came out of the gate looking like it had something to prove, outscoring the Cardinals 24-6 in the first quarter. The Huskies went on to win the game by just 11 points as Louisville played up to its top-ranked competition in the final three quarters. Katie Lou Samuelson led UConn with 26 points in the game.

The matchup with Temple will likely be much less intriguing. The Owls (10-15, 2-10 the American) sit in the basement of the American, tied with Memphis for last place. In their matchup earlier this season, UConn defeated Temple 113-57, behind 24 points from Kia Nurse and a career-high 22 points from freshman Megan Walker.

In the seven games since that matchup, Walker has averaged just 4.6 points per game on 14.3 minutes. The Huskies would love to get Walker back on track to provide additional impact off the bench in March, along with Azurá Stevens and her 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Nurse, the leading scorer in the last game against Temple, is enjoying her best season in terms of scoring. The senior guard averages 14.8 points per game this year, third-best on the team behind Samuelson, who leads the way at 18 points per game, and Napheesa Collier, who averages 15.7.

Samuelson and Collier led the Huskies in scoring by a wide margin last season, each scoring over 20 points per game. This year, they were two of five players selected to this year’s AP Preseason All-American Team, joining teammate Gabby Williams. Nurse, however, is averaging two points more than her career-high and is making 3-pointers at an incredibly high rate.

With 369 points scored this season, Nurse is 51 points from her career-best single-season scoring total. At her current pace, Nurse will break that mark by the end of the regular season, with plenty of tournament games to add to her total. Nurse scored just four points in Monday’s win, but she played a critical role in the win by defending Louisville’s star guard Asia Durr.

Nurse owns the fourth-best 3-point percentage in Division I. The Hamilton, Ontario native is shooting 47.3 percent from behind the arc, just 0.3 percentage points behind her teammate Samuelson.

Walker, Nurse and the rest of the Huskies have just four games remaining on their regular season slate and they will all occur just eight days apart. That final stretch begins Sunday as UConn and Temple will tip off at 2 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford.


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