Jan. 17, 2014
STORRS, Conn. – No. 1 Connecticut women’s basketball will encounter its first ranked conference opponent of the season when the team heads to No. 23 Rutgers on Sunday, Jan. 19 for a 3:00pm ET showdown at ‘The RAC.’ UConn (18-0, 5-0 American) rides a 24 game-winning streak to New Jersey, which dates back to last year’s NCAA Tournament run. The Scarlet Knights (13-3, 4-1 American) dropped their first conference game in an overtime road loss to Memphis on Tuesday night.
ESPN2 will provide nationally televised coverage of the matchup with Pam Ward and Rebecca Lobo on the call. Online streaming can be accessed through ESPN3.
The Huskies and Scarlet Knights meet at center court for the 37th time Sunday afternoon. UConn owns a 30-6 all-time record against Rutgers that includes a ten-game winning streak since March 2009. The squads crossed paths last season in February, when a 15 point effort by Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and a 14 point night from Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) propelled the Huskies to a 65-45 win in Piscataway.
The early portion of the week proved a busy one for the Huskies. UConn defeated Temple before a sellout crowd in Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon before a quick turnaround to Waco, Texas and a heavyweight battle with No. 7 Baylor on Monday evening. The Huskies emerged with the hard-fought 66-55 win to snap the Bears’ 69-game home winning streak. On that same day, USA Basketball announced the pool for the 2014-16 National Team. Three current UConn players -- Stefanie Dolson, Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) -- comprised half of the six collegiate players selected to the group. Four former Connecticut stars in Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, and Maya Moore highlighted the returning veterans.
Also prior to the tipoff at Baylor, the American Athletic Conference selected Breanna Stewart as the league’s Player of the Week following a 24 point effort against Houston and a 12 point game against Temple. Stewart takes home the award for the second time this year after becoming the third Husky to earn the honor this season on Dec. 23 after the senior tandem of Dolson and Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) earned the distinction in November. On Wednesday, Hartley was identified by the Naismith Hall of Fame as a candidate for the 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award, which is awarded annually to the top point guard in Division I Women’s College Hoops. As a team, the Huskies remained the No. 1 choice in the AP Top-25 rankings for the 11th consecutive voting period.
No. 23 Rutgers presents the seventh ranked opponent the Huskies will have faced this season. In order of numerical rankings, UConn has defeated then-No. 2 Duke, then-No. 3 Stanford, No. 7 Baylor, then-No. 8 Maryland, then-No. 13 Penn State, and then-No. 21 Cal. The average margin of victory in these games was 20.1 points. On the season, UConn has outscored opponents by +36.7 points.
Five Huskies average double-figures, with Stewart leading the way at 18.1 points per game. Hartley (13.9), Dolson (13.2) Mosqueda-Lewis (11.1) and Moriah Jefferson (10.4) all contribute to a talented UConn offense. In addition to scoring, Connecticut leads the American in a number of categories including free throw percentage (76.2), field goal percentage (49.7), blocks (8.9/game), assists (21.0/game), and assist/turnover ratio (1.8).
Sophomore guard Moriah Jefferson (Glenn Heights, Texas) has made significant contributions of late. Jefferson shined in her home state against No. 7 Baylor on Monday, scoring 13 points and recording four steals for the second consecutive game. The 5-foot7 guard’s efforts were also noticeable on the defensive end, as she helped limit the nation’s leading scorer in Odyssey Sims to a 4-for-25 night from the floor and a season-low 20 points. In her last four games the sophomore has made 13-of-20 baskets for a 66.25 field goal percentage. Her 4.7 assists per game rank first on the team and are second-best in the conference. The Texas native leads the league with a 2.7 assists/turnover ratio.