Women’s Basketball: Huskies back home for conference play after survival in Texas


UConn women’s basketball team defeats Oklahoma’s 88-61 on 12/19/2017. (Charlotte Lao/ The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s basketball team is back at the Gampel Pavilion Thursday for an American Athletic Conference matchup against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The No. 1 Huskies (16-0, 5-0 the American) head into the matchup against Tulsa after a two-game road stint in Texas in which they dominated conference opponent Houston, but barely survived against No. 9 Texas, winning 75-71.

With Texas now in the rear-view mirror, the Huskies will play four consecutive American Athletic Conference opponents before another tough non-conference test against defending national champions South Carolina, on Feb. 1. The first of these conference opponents is Tulsa.

UConn should have no problem taking down the Golden Hurricane (8-10, 2-3 the American), who sit at eighth in the American Athletic Conference. UConn and Tulsa have shared just one opponent thus far in the 2017-18 season, ECU. The Huskies defeated the Pirates 96-35, whereas the Golden Hurricane lost 73-67.

UConn should fare well, given the Huskies’ history of success in the all-time series. UConn is 7-0 against the Golden Hurricane and has scored at least 90 points each time, whereas Tulsa has never scored more than 60 points against the Huskies.

An issue Tulsa has had this season (and could hurt them against the dominant Huskies) is a lack of continuity in the starting lineup. The Golden Hurricane have had 11 different starters over the course of 18 games, and only four players have started at least 10 games.

Tulsa head coach Matilda Mossman mixing and matching lineups hasn’t helped with Tulsa’s scoring this season, which ranks 259th out of 349 Division I schools with 61.9 points per game. The Golden Hurricane have just two players averaging double figures scoring, with Shug Dickson and Erika Wakefield scoring 13.1 points per game and 10 points per game, respectively.

On the other hand, UConn has six players who average double figures and four players who average at least 14.4 points per game. Junior guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson leads the charge for the Huskies, averaging 18 points per contest, to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Samuelson and teammate Kia Nurse are among the nation’s leaders in 3-point shooting percentage, ranking third and fourth with 49.3 percent and 48.1 percent, respectively.

Azurá Stevens, the first player to come off the Huskies’ bench, has been an X-factor on offense in limited minutes. Stevens only plays 22.6 minutes per game, but scores 14.4 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds on average. Stevens also leads the team with 34 blocks this season, and is among the nation’s leaders in field goal percentage, ranking 21st with 58.1 percent shooting. Nurse is not too far behind, ranking 30th with 56.6 percent shooting.

Tip-off for the matchup between UConn and Tulsa will take place around 7 p.m. Thursday at Gampel, and the game will be broadcast on SNY.

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.

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