HARTFORD— The No.1 UConn Huskies defeated Memphis 83-40 in their final game at the XL Center this season. Like so many others before it, this game was dominated by the Huskies in front of the Hartford crowd.
The noon start time provided for a great atmosphere for the Huskies as they closed the XL Center portion of their schedule in front of 12,047 fans.
“That is when you like playing here — when you get that kind of crowd,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Because it really makes a difference. But at the same time I am glad we are going back to Gampel now (Pavilion) for a while. We just need that.”
UConn’s remaining six home games will be played at the on-campus Gampel Pavilion, a place the Huskies have only played at twice so far this season.
In recent years, UConn has found great success at the XL Center. With their latest victory, the Huskies have now won 80 of their last 83 games at the XL Center.
The senior class of guard Moriah Jefferson and forward Breanna Stewart certainly contributed to the success. They will graduate with a 26-1 regular season record at the XL Center and a 28-2 record overall record at the XL Center, which includes the 2013 Big East Conference Tournament. Both losses came during their freshman season when they fell to Baylor in the regular season and Notre Dame in the conference championship game.
The seniors each finished their final game at the XL Center on a high note.
Stewart had a game-high 19 points and seven rebounds to go along with 5 assists four steals and one block.
Jefferson finished with 11 points, seven assists and two steals. Jefferson’s seven assists were enough to put her into a tie with Bria Hartley for fifth place on UConn’s career assist list at 559 assists.
Jefferson also became the ninth player in UConn history with three seasons of 100 assists and 50 steals.
After playing her final game at UConn’s home away from Storrs, Jefferson could not point to just one single memory from playing in Hartford.
“It’s too many,” Jefferson said. “Just really the experiences that I’ve gotten with my teammates and being able to play on this floor in front of these home fans is always fun.”
UConn’s victory over Memphis also marked the 23rd straight season of 20 wins of more for the Huskies. This is the ninth time in school history that the Huskies have started a season 20-0.
UConn has been clicking on all levels recently. The Huskies have won each of their last six games by 40 or more points.
UConn’s recent success has come from an increased effort to apply more pressure on the defensive end.
“I think just the way we are playing defensively,” Stewart said. “Pressuring them full court and really getting our hands in the passing lanes and making them feel uncomfortable bringing the ball up.”
Against Memphis, UConn forced a season high 34 turnovers. The Huskies capitalized on those turnovers as they scored 45 points off turnovers.
UConn will look to carry their recent success over to their much awaited return to Gampel.
“It is super exciting,” Jefferson said. “We’ve played in Gampel twice this year so it’s foreign to us right now. It will be good to get back in there and get a few practices in there and get back to a normal routine.”
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.