Time and Place: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport CT. (Subject to change based on Maryland vs. Oregon game)
Where to Watch: ESPN, channel 42.1 on Storrs channel listing
Last Meeting: This is the last meeting between the Bruins and the Huskies since the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge on Dec. 21, 2014, when UConn won 86-50. In the game, Breanna Stewart scored 22 points as the team scored 32 points off of UCLA’s 21 turnovers.
UConn’s Last Time Out: The Huskies defeated the No. 8 seed Syracuse Orange 94-64, as junior Kia Nurse had 29 points and an NCAA Women’s Tournament-tying nine 3-pointers. With the win over the Orange, UConn advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 24th straight year.
UCLA’s Last Time Out: The No. 4 seed Bruins handily defeated No. 5 seed Texas A&M 75-43. Kari Korver had 21 points on 7-10 shooting from behind the 3-point line. This is the fifth trip in program history for UCLA and their second straight.
Projected Starting Lineups: UConn (34-0) vs. UCLA (25-8)
G: Saniya Chong vs. Jordan Canada
In her first two NCAA tournament starts, Chong played 31 minutes in both games and has amassed six points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. The senior is still third in the nation in assist to turnover ratio, and she is one win away from tying Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck’s record of 151 career wins which is currently a NCAA record. Opposing Chong is junior Jordin Canada who was scored 27 points and dished out 27 assists in the first two games of this year’s tournament. On the year, Canada led the team in scoring (17.9 pg), assists (6.9 pg) and steals (2.6 pg); she was named to both the first team All-Pac-12 and the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
G: Kia Nurse vs. Kari Korver
Nurse is following one of her best games in her career as she had 29 points and six assists on 10-13 shooting from the field. In this year’s tournament she has hit 15 3-pointers on 19 attempts and she is a career 61.1 percent 3-point shooter in the NCAA tournament. Like Nurse, Korver is also a deadly 3-point shooter, having had seven in the second round game and hitting 65 on the season. She is one of two seniors on the roster and she holds the UCLA single-season record for three-pointers made with 74 in 2014-15.
W: Katie Lou Samuelson vs. Kelli Hayes
Sophomore American Co-Player of the Year and Naismith Finalist is shooting 51.5 percent in the NCAA tournament, as Samuelson had a quiet 23 points and five rebounds in the game against Syracuse. In the two NCAA tournament games this year she has amassed 13 assists and only three turnovers as she has become an excellent passer turn the end of March. Averaging 26.9 minutes per game, Hayes is shooting 39.1 percent from the field, averaging 5.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. The junior from San Jose, California, has started in 29 games this year as she is coming off a 2-2 shooting performance in 24 minutes against Texas A&M.
G: Gabby Williams vs. Kennedy Burke
Williams, the jack of all trades for the Huskies, is coming off of a 9-13 shooting performance for 23 points against the Orange. She has scored 20 or more points in both NCAA games this year as well as eight rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. On the year she is averaging 13.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and a team-leading 5.3 assists in 28.2 minutes per game. Burke is one of two sophomores on the roster this season as she was has followed up her 5.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game freshman season with 12.5 points and 4.9 rebounds this year. The six foot one guard had nine points and five rebounds in the 32 point second round victory over the Aggies.
F: Napheesa Collier vs. Monique Billings
Collier, the other sophomore American Co-Player of the Year and Naismith Finalist, is shooting a blistering 75 percent from the field in this year’s NCAA tournament, having amassed 41 points, 17 rebounds and six steals in the first two games. This season she leads the team in rebounding, blocks, field goal percentage and is second in points per game averaging 20.2. Lining up against Collier will be the six foot four junior who is second on the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game and first on the team with 10.6 rebounds per game. In the second round game she was held to 12 points and two rebounds as she only played 25 minutes in the win.
Chasing History: With a win over UCLA, the Huskies would extend their record NCAA-winning streak to 110 games which would pass Penn State’s 109 consecutive wins in women’s volleyball in 2007-10. If the Huskies are able to win in the national championship game they would pass Division III Mount Union’s 112 game winning streak.
Back to Bridgeport: This is the second straight year that UCLA will play in the Bridgeport region in the Sweet 16, as the No. 3 seed Bruins lost 72-64 to No. 2 seed Texas. Last year in Bridgeport, the Huskies defeated No. 5 Mississippi State by 60 points and then defeated Texas by 31 points in the Elite Eight.
Battle on the Boards: UCLA is 19-1 this season when out-rebounding their opponent and 6-7 when being outrebounded as they average 40.6 per game and concede 38.2. The Huskies average 39.2 rebounds and let up 32.3. The battle in the paint and on the boards will certainly be something to watch.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.