UConn’s season was altered for the first time since it began after their highly-touted matchup against No. 6 Baylor was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 case in Baylor’s program. Now, after 11 days off, the Huskies are back in action in a Big East matchup against the Providence Friars. UConn has looked dominant in conference play thus far, and will look to keep that momentum rolling facing off against an unpredictable Providence team.
For the Friars (5-6, 3-3 Big East), their record emphasizes just how up-and-down their season has been. Just two of the team’s 11 games have been decided by single digits, while four of their five wins have been by over 20 and they’ve lost by as many as 49 points to conference foe Marquette. Providence’s point differential in wins is +21 while it drops to a less-than-impressive -18 in games they don’t win.
In short, when shots are falling for the Friars, everything gets rolling. But when those shots aren’t falling, games become tough to watch.
Leading the way for Providence is junior Mary Baskerville. The CT-native paces the team in points (14.1), rebounds (7.3) and blocks (1.7) while shooting an impressive 57% from the field. Standing at 6-foot-3 and attempting just one 3-pointer on the season, a defensive matchup once given to Christyn Williams or Evina Westbrook now may be handed off to interior players like Olivia Nelson-Ododa or Aaliyah Edwards.
Whichever one of the aforementioned Huskies isn’t guarding Baskerville will likely be matched up with her frontcourt teammate Alyssa Geary. The 6-foot-4 junior is putting up just over 10 points, one block and nearly three assists (good enough for second on the team) per game to form an impressive frontcourt for Providence.
As for UConn (6-0, 5-0 Big East), their “Big 3” of freshman phenom Paige Bueckers and juniors Williams and Nelson-Ododa continue to shine. And unlike the Friars, the Huskies have ridden these three to 20+ points victories every game so far.
Bueckers leads the team in points (18.2), assists (5.2) and steals (2.7) while Williams and Nelson-Ododa are each chipping in 17 points and solid rebounding numbers. The three of them seem to alternate who is going to have the best game on a nightly basis, making it incredibly difficult for teams to game plan against them.
Although there was no basketball played in the past 11 days, the highlight of the week for the Huskies came when Nelson-Ododa was named Big East Player of the Week while Bueckers won her third consecutive Big East Freshman of the Week honor.
On the rise for the Huskies is Evina Westbrook, who after a cold start to the season having not played for nearly two years, has finally gotten into a rhythm on both ends. In her last three games Westbrook is averaging 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. If she can find the consistency she had during her dominance at Tennessee, that will only add to UConn’s already deadly arsenal.
With seven upperclassmen on the team, the Friars bring a lot of experience to the court the Huskies’ young team does not have to this point, setting an intriguing narrative of experience vs. sheer talent. Tipoff for this one is set for 1 p.m. EST and can be viewed on SNY.