Lately, it seems that each time the UConn Huskies take the floor, the less likely they’re going to win. Games that used to be easy are now a grind thanks to the injuries they’ve sustained. Those injuries that have taken place over a month ago have put a significant strain on the five players forced to pick up slack. Initially, those players handled the situation well, but they’re understandably getting more and more tired, which is concerning as the Huskies move into their tough final five games.
Wednesday’s contest against Creighton will be no easy feat, as the Bluejays are the real deal. As a team that made it into the rankings earlier this year before hitting a wall, they’ve been impressive as of late. They started off the year with seven straight wins (three over ranked competition) before losing four of five, with three such losses coming against ranked opponents, two in the top 10. Their loss at Providence raises some questions, but all of their other defeats aren’t bad. Since that loss, the Bluejays have won nine of 10, the only blemish at home versus an angry No. 14 Villanova team looking for revenge.
They’ll be looking to take advantage of the undermanned Huskies in a grudge match of their own, losing the last meeting by 25 points. That effort will be spearheaded by Lauren Jensen, a player who’s taken a nice leap in her junior season. The guard is averaging better than 16 points per game and four assists, both of which lead the Bluejays. She hasn’t been the best on the team from beyond the arc, but she takes a lot of them, which has taken her numbers down.
Morgan Maly and Emma Ronsiek have been the team’s best snipers and top rebounders —and also the only other two players averaging double-figure scoring. They both shoot better than 38% from beyond the arc. The three-headed attack of Jensen, Maly and Ronsiek will be tough to beat, especially if they’re hitting their shots. Last time, Creighton was uncharacteristically ice cold from deep, so if they can really have a good night, then it’ll put the Huskies in some real danger.
The Bluejays are also regarded by most as an NCAA tournament-caliber team floating around an eight or nine seed in most bracketology projections. Their NET rating is No. 25, which is less than UConn’s No. 2, but still very high in comparison to Marquette and Georgetown, two teams that the Huskies struggled with.
They lost to the Golden Eagles in Milwaukee in an ugly game. The Golden Eagles are a borderline NCAA tournament team with a lot of strong wins, so the loss isn’t an embarrassing one. The Bluejays then went to Washington D.C. to play Georgetown, where they really struggled. Lou Lopez Sénéchal had her worst game of the year and will need to step up in this one — if she has the legs under her to do so.
Lopez Sénéchal will be the key player here. She needs to have a bounce-back game to ensure that the Huskies don’t begin to skid at the wrong time. She spent the first two-thirds of the year as the Huskies’ most reliable player and was the reason why they didn’t miss a beat with the injuries. The fatigue is catching up for everyone, though, and Creighton is a team primed to pounce on this.
Nika Mühl, the team’s energy and glue, injured her ankle during the game against the Hoyas, but returned to the floor. Her status doesn’t seem to be in danger ahead of the game, but she’ll be interesting to monitor.
The game will tip off at 7 p.m. EST at Gampel Pavilion and can be viewed on SNY.