We’re just one week away. It seems unfathomable, but just seven days from today, the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament will tip off at Mohegan Sun Arena. Before we can even begin to discuss the Big East Tournament, the University of Connecticut has some unfinished business to take care of, in the form of St. John’s and Providence, a pair of teams that they beat on the road earlier this year. One could argue that these games don’t matter though, as the Huskies already clinched the Big East regular season title Wednesday night versus Marquette. Either way, these games will be useful to help the team get more minutes together to gel.
The first game of the weekend slate will occur at home against the St. John’s Red Storm, who the Huskies beat 75-57 in late January. That game saw freshman Caroline Ducharme score a career-high 28 points to lead the way and Olivia Nelson-Ododa chip in with 18 rebounds and 10 assists, with the Huskies having just six players see minutes.
The Johnnies shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge for the Huskies, ranking as the 128th best team in NET and sitting in seventh place in the conference (7-10). The player to watch for on St. John’s will be Leilani Correa, who scored 19 in the teams’ last clash. The junior is averaging a team-high 17.8 points per game, adding 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals. In their past eight wins, Correa is averaging over 18 points. Her season point total is good for top 75 in the nation, establishing herself as a premiere scorer. If the Red Storm want to pull out the upset, they’ll need Correa to show out and really torch the Huskies’ stingy defense.
Providence will face UConn for senior day on Sunday and should be easier than St. John’s. NET has them as No. 156 in the country and they rank just below St. John’s in the Big East (6-12). Junior guard Janai Crooms should be the driving force behind the Friars’ attack, as she leads the team in points (13.8), rebounds (7.7) and assists (3.7). Her best scoring output of the season actually came last time out against UConn, as she seemingly couldn’t miss with 27 points on 8-11 shooting. She’ll have to do the same and more to beat a Husky group that will be riled up for senior night, playing one of their last games at Gampel Pavilion.
Participating in the senior night festivities will be Nelson-Ododa, Christyn Williams, Evina Westbrook and Dorka Juhasz. There is the possibility that Juhasz will exercise her final year of eligibility, but she has not made a decision yet.
Another ongoing storyline is whether reigning player of the year Paige Buckers will make her long-awaited debut this weekend. She went through warmups in full uniform on Wednesday, but ultimately sat out. Perhaps this is a sign she’ll play in the near future, but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Huskies have been red-hot as of late, winning their last five games by a combined 154 points, with three of those contests coming against top five Big East opponents. There’s no reason that UConn shouldn’t improve to 18-1 in-conference this season, with plenty of momentum to go into the postseason with.
The Friday game against St. John’s will be at 7 p.m. and can be viewed locally on SNY. Sunday’s matinee against Providence will be broadcast nationally on CBSSN at 2 p.m.