Women’s Basketball: Huskies’ March Madness starts at Mohegan

The UConn Women's Basketball team defeats USF 82-53 on Senior Night in Gampel Pavilion on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. The graduating seniors were Forward Gabby Williams (15) and and guard Kia Nurse (11). (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s basketball team will begin its 2017-18 postseason journey at Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday night, when it will take on the winner of a matchup between the No. 9-seed Tulane Green Wave and No. 8-seed Memphis Tigers.

The No. 1 Huskies (29-0, 16-0 the American) have passed every single test they have faced this season, and as such have earned the No. 1 seed for the American Athletic Conference Championship played at the nearby Mohegan Sun Arena.

After the program’s 10th undefeated regular season in 2017-18, UConn still has goals to accomplish in the postseason. One of those goals is a fifth-straight American title.

“We’re not satisfied with going 29-0,” UConn senior and newest Huskies of Honor inductee Gabby Williams said. “We have our next goal now that we’re looking up to.”

Since the inception of the American in 2013-14, UConn has not lost a game to a conference foe. The Huskies’ historic dominance of the American has led them to an 86-0 record against conference opponents in the regular season and a 12-0 record in conference tournaments on their way to four consecutive American championships.

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma knows his team won’t overlook its weaker conference opponents in preparation for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

“We’re so caught in the moment of what we’re doing that you wake up one morning and right away we’re in the NCAA Tournament, and all we know how to do is take advantage of the moment,” Auriemma said. “That’s the only way I know how to do it.”

UConn awaits the result of a matchup between Tulane and Memphis, who square off Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Mohegan. The Huskies defeated both teams two times apiece in the regular season by a combined margin of 202 points.

While Tulane (13-16, 5-11 the American) finished with a better regular season record than Memphis (10-19, 5-11 the American), the Tigers beat the Green Wave out for the No. 8 seed by the head-to-head tiebreaker. Memphis came out on top in the lone regular season game between the two teams, beating Tulane 73-60 in Memphis on Feb. 18.

Tulane is spearheaded by superstar scorer Kolby Morgan. The senior guard from New Orleans has faced the opponents’ full attention game after game making it hard for her to get easy buckets, yet still averaged a team-high 19.2 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting from the field.

No other player on the Green Wave roster averages double figures scoring. Morgan doesn’t get much rest either, averaging 35.2 minutes per game this season without sitting out on any given day.

Memphis had two horrendous stretches of play in the regular season, losing eight consecutive games on two separate occasions. The Tigers don’t go to the bench very often, and play three players at least 35 minutes per game. Memphis usually turns to Brea Elmore and Cheyenne Creighton when it needs a bucket. The two seniors lead the Tigers in scoring with 15.3 and 14.4 points per game, respectively.

The Huskies will start their journey for another NCAA championship as they take the floor at Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.