Women’s Basketball Preview: UConn back at home, looking to build new winning streak vs. St. John’s

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Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma motions to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the DePaul Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Chicago. Connecticut won 100-67. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

This Wednesday, Feb. 3, The UConn Huskies (11-1, 9-0 Big East) will play host to the St. John’s Red Storm (5-9, 2-7 Big East) at 6:30 p.m. Eastern at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.  

The Huskies have historically had success against St. John’s, particularly in recent years. UConn is 40-17 all-time against the Red Storm, with nine wins in their last ten meetings, including three in a row prior to Wednesday’s matchup. Both teams are currently on a one-game winning streak.  

UConn can be very stout defensively (53.5 points-allowed-per-game), but head coach Geno Auriemma, who is seeking more consistency on that end, is not satisfied just yet. “Our defense is not anywhere near where it needs to be for us to be a championship [caliber] team,” he said. “But we still have time to get better at it.” 

The Huskies offense has been more consistent this season. Their 86.5 points-scored-per-game and 53 percent shooting percentage are both excellent, especially when paired with good defense. Much of the offense for the Huskies has come from their star guards, freshman Paige Bueckers and junior Christyn Williams. Bueckers, who is averaging 18.5 points and 5.7 assists-per-game was named this week’s Big East Freshman of the Week for the sixth time since her first career game less than two months ago. Meanwhile, Williams (16.8 points) was on this week’s Big East Women’s Basketball Weekly Honor Roll. The two have combined for 94 points in the past two games.  

Connecticut guard Paige Bueckers (5) drives Arkansas defender Makayla Daniels (43) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The thing that’s impressed Bueckers’ coach, Geno Auriemma, the most is her poise under pressure in such a young career. According to Auriemma, this poise supports her ability to control the game and involve her teammates in the action. “She’s pretty consistent in her approach. She doesn’t get too far ahead of herself. She doesn’t get bogged down in what happened the previous play,” he said. “She’s got a great tempo. There’s not any part of the game she feels uncomfortable in. That’s kind of rare for a freshman. She’s got command of the court. She has the ability to raise the level of [her teammates’] game.” 

For St. John’s, their offense goes through sophomore Leilani Correa (18.8 points) and senior Qadashah Hoppie (18.0 points). No other player on St. John’s is averaging double-digit scoring. UConn’s main goal defensively will be stopping the Red Storm’s top scorers.  

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