Time and Place: 7 p.m. Monday March 27, Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport CT.
Where to Watch: ESPN, channel 42.1 on Storrs channel listing
Last Meeting: Oregon and UConn have met twice in program history, the Huskies with a record of 2-0, with the last meeting coming on Nov. 20, 2013. In that meeting, UConn won 114-68 at the XL Center behind Stefanie Dolson’s triple-double, as she had a career–high 26 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
UConn’s Last Time Out: The Huskies downed the No. 4 seed UCLA Bruins by a score of 86-71 as sophomore Napheesa Collier had 27 points and 14 rebounds. Despite trailing 9-2 early, UConn was able to bounce back and scored 17 of the next 19 points, and go into halftime with a 17 point lead.
Oregon’s Last Time Out: The No. 10 seed Ducks upset the considerable favorite No. 3 seed Maryland by a score of 77-63. Oregon led for the final three quarters of the game, led by freshman Sabrina Ionescu who had a game-high 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Projected Starting Lineups:
UConn (34-0) vs. Oregon (23-13)
G: Saniya Chong vs. Maite Cazorla
Senior Saniya Chong is coming off her best all-around performance this season as she scored 16 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists in 28 minutes of play. She was able to break through the UCLA press, hit three timely 3-pointers and only commit two turnovers as she was able to make a mark on the game on both sides of the court. Cazorla exceeded her scoring average of 7.9 points per game against Maryland, scoring 15 points on 5-9 shooting from the field in the Sweet 16 upset. In the upset win against No. 2 Duke, the sophomore had 17 points and hit a season-high four 3-pointers. When she contributed in that game to the Oregon offense, the Ducks broke 70 points and are currently hitting 20-1 this season.
G: Kia Nurse vs. Sabrina Ionescu
Nurse slowed down her scoring barrage against UCLA, hitting three 3-pointers and is now up to 18 in this year’s NCAA tournament on 78.2 percent shooting. She is playing her best basketball since returning from her injury, averaging 20.7 points on 75 percent shooting this tournament, which is way above her 13 points on 48.2 percent average this season. Ionescu is one of three freshmen who start for the Ducks and was named the Pac-12 freshman of the year is first in the NCAA with four triple-doubles this season. In her debut season, she is averaging 14.4 points, 6.6 assists and a team-leading and third in the NCAA 5.6 assists per game.
W: Katie Lou Samuelson vs. Lexi Bando
Samuelson lit it up in the first half against UCLA, scoring 14 points but failing to hit a field goal in the second half, finishing with 15 points. She was 2-8 from the 3-point line, and is now only five 3-pointers away from the UConn all-time record for made 3-point field goals in a season. In her NCAA tournament career she is averaging 14.4 points on 50 percent shooting, compared to her averaged 17.6 points per game during her sophomore season. Bando is the seasoned veteran in the starting lineup. In the Pac-12 quarterfinal win over Washington this season she eclipsed the 1,000 point plateau for her career and is now at 1,027. She was able to hit crucial back to back threes last game putting Maryland away late and finishing 3-9 from the field for 10 points in the win.
G: Gabby Williams vs. Ruthy Hebard
Williams, per usual, filled out the stat sheet as she amassed 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the win over the Bruins. On the season, she is third in team scoring, second in rebounding and blocked shots and leads the team in steals and assists. Williams is on her way to becoming the first post player in UConn history to lead the team in assists. Hebard, another freshman for the Ducks, is their leading scorer, averaging 14.9 per game and coming off of a 16 point and eight rebound game against Maryland. She was selected to the all-Pac 12 and Pac 12 all-freshman teams this season, and is also 11th in the nation in field goal percentage shooting 60.5 percent.
F: Napheesa Collier vs. Mallory McGwire
Collier kept up her scoring rampage against UCLA, netting 27 points on 10-16 shooting from the field. By grabbing 16 rebounds, she is up to 15 double-doubles this season and is averaging 23.8 points and 9.9 rebounds on 75 percent shooting from the field in the last 10 games. McGwire is the third freshman in the starting lineup for the Ducks, and is coming off a quiet game, as she had four points and three bounds in 20 minutes of play. The six-foot-five forward is shooting 53.7 percent from the field, third best in the Pac-12, and averaging 7.5 points per game.
Oregon coach Kelly Graves on playing UConn: “Well, it’s going to take our absolute best. There’s no doubt about it, and we’ve got to play for 40 minutes. “We’ve got to play a 40-minute game. Things are going to go wrong. We’ve got to lift our heads up and fight through it and continue to fight, and this team has shown that kind of resilience. I’m not going to sit here and just say we’re happy to be here.”
UCLA’s Cori Close on what Oregon needs to do: “They’re going to have to shoot the three well. They have to get enough stops that they can play up-tempo and shoot the three. I think they’re going to have to trade some threes and twos.”
Nurse on an unfamiliar opponent: “It’s fun to be in a situation where it’s kind of out of the usual. It’s a team that has had a great run so far. There’s a reason that they’re here, that they’ve been successful with their multidimensional pieces. And I think for us coming up today and tomorrow, being prepared as much as we can, understanding that we have to be great and better at things that we didn’t do well in the last game, and trying to fix those for this next one.”
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.