Women’s Basketball: UConn returns home to take on East Carolina


UConn's Saniya Chong dribbles toward the hoop in the Huskies' 98-65 win over Dayton on Nov. 22, 2016 at Gampel Pavilion. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

UConn’s Saniya Chong dribbles toward the hoop in the Huskies’ 98-65 win over Dayton on Nov. 22, 2016 at Gampel Pavilion. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

After a resounding 36 point victory against the UCF to open up 2017, the No. 1 UConn Huskies (13-0, 1-0 the American) will look to keep their 88-game winning streak going against the East Carolina Pirates in Hartford on Wednesday. The Huskies have yet to lose a game in the history of the American Athletic Conference and have won 82 of their last 85 games played at the XL Center.

Against East Carolina, the Huskies hold a perfect 6-0 record, including two wins last year in which UConn won at home by 46 points and on the road by 43 points. This year might prove to be a different story, as the Pirates (9-5, 0-1 the American)  already have amassed nine wins, only four away from their last season’s total. Despite being on a two-game losing streak, the Pirates are winners of three of their last five games and five of their last eight.

Kristen Gaffney and Bre McDonald lead the way for the Pirates, with Gaffney leading the team in points with 16.4 per game, rebounds with 6.6 and is the only one on the team who averages more than 27 minutes per game (31.9). McDonald is second on the team with 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and is also an efficient three point shooter going 10-17 on the season.

The two areas of concern for the Pirates are free throw shooting and three point shooting as they shoot a miserable 62 percent from the line and a low 34.7 percent from behind the arc. In comparison, the Huskies shoot 76.3 percent from the line and an efficient 42 percent from behind the arc.

As a team East Carolina has averaged 67.9 points per game while allowing 64.6 points per game, as they have allowed over that total in half of their games.

The Huskies in the scoring department this season are still led by the duo of sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier as they average a combined 39. 7 points per game. Samuelson also leads the team with 44 made three pointers and a 45.4 percentage from behind the arc while Collier leads the team in blocks per game, offensive rebounds per game and field goal percentage.

Even with the success of the these two this season, junior Gabby Williams is having a spectacular season as she is first on the team with 8.1 rebounds per game, first with 2.7 steals per game, first in assists with 4.6 per game and fourth on the team with 11.2 points per game. Williams was just named the American’s Player of the Week as she averaged 15.5 points on 63.6 shooting from the field, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and two blocks per game in pair of road wins against No. 4 Maryland and UCF.

The game against East Carolina will tip-off at 7 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford with coverage on SNY and ESPN 3. Following the game, SNY will welcome back their Huskies All-Access program at 9:30 p.m.The one-hour show will take fans behind-the-scenes for a look at the UConn women’s program and how they have coped with the loss of their three seniors to the WNBA draft as well as what this year is doing to try and claim their fifth-straight national championship.

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.

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