Dec. 19, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The top-ranked program in women's basketball will travel to New York City's Madison Square Garden as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic presented by Advance Auto Parts on Dec. 22. The matchup will pit undefeated UConn (11-0) against No. 21 Cal (7-2) in a 1:30pm contest on Sunday afternoon. Tune in to ESPN for televised coverage of the Connecticut game with Pam Ward on the play-by-play and Carolyn Peck as the color commentator.
The Maggie Dixon Classic
One of the biggest stages in sports plays host to an annual double-header event in honor of Army head coach Maggie Dixon, who passed away of an arrhythmia in April 2006 following her first season at the helm of the Black Knights. Army hosted the 1st Annual Maggie Dixon Classic that November, after which the games moved to Madison Square Garden where it has remained since 2007.
Texas A&M and St. John's will meet in the first game Sunday afternoon for an 11:00am tipoff time to be broadcast on ESPNU. As part of the effort to raise awareness surrounding heart health, the University of Pittsburgh Medical center will promote healthy living information and provide educational resources at a Heart Health Fair on site. Fans attending the event can participate in free screenings, including blood pressure testing and cholesterol checks, to highlight just a few of the available educational activities.
Connecticut in the Maggie Dixon Classic
UConn first participated in the 2008 Maggie Dixon Classic, defeating Penn State by a score of 77-59 as the seventh win in a 39-0 campaign en route to winning the 2009 National Championship. Following a one year hiatus from the event, Connecticut returned to the Classic in December 2010 to best Ohio State, 81-50. When the Huskies upended the Buckeyes, they recorded their 88th consecutive win as part of the 90-game win streak that still stands as the longest streak in college basketball.
On Sunday, UConn returns to Madison Square Garden with a 4-0 all-time showing at the World's Most Famous Arena after a two year absence from the Classic. UConn will meet California for the fourth time in program history. The Huskies hold the upper hand with a two-game winning streak against the Golden Bears, including a 77-53 rout in the teams' last meeting in the Regional Semifinal of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
No. 1 UConn
On Dec. 17 the Huskies once again proved why they are top dog of the women's basketball with a dominant performance against the second-best team in the country. UConn dispatched No. 2 Duke by 22 points to improve to 12-2 all-time when playing as the No. 1 team facing the second-best squad in the country. UConn has sprinted out to an 11-0 record, averaging 38.2 points per game more than their opponents. The Blue Devils succumbed to a UConn defense that stifles opposing teams. The Huskies have held their foes to an average field goal percentage of just 32.2 this season.
In a career packed with impressive three-point performances, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) celebrated her first game back in action by sinking a personal-best seven 3-pointers in a 21 point performance. The junior, who returned from a nerve contusion in her right elbow she suffered on Nov. 11, will provide the UConn offense with the perimeter shooter they had been missing the previous eight games. In Mosqueda-Lewis' absence, however, several players performed from distance, including Bria Hartley's (North Babylon, N.Y.) career-best 5-for-5 night from behind the arc against UC-Davis.
Though Mosqueda-Lewis made headlines in her first reappearance on Tuesday, three other Huskies (including Hartley) also hit double-figures in the win. Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) logged a 24 point, 11 rebound double-double in the victory. The sophomore has been dominant this season, currently leading the squad in several offensive categories including points per game (18.4), blocked shots (3.1 per game), and free throws (82.7 percent, earning an average 4.7 attempts per game).
The senior duo of Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) also recorded double-figures against No. 2 Duke. Hartley plays a central role in running the offense, dishing out an average 5.5 assists per game in addition to averaging 15.2 points of her own. At a 4.0 assist/turnover ratio, she boasts some of the best numbers in the nation. Dolson has also posted consistently high numbers. Her 14-point showing against Duke marked the fourth consecutive game in which Dolson has made her way into double-digits.
Sophomore Moriah Jefferson (Glen Heights, Texas) has continued her hot play of late with nine points against the Blue Devils. She average 4.8 assists per game, which ranks second only to Bria Hartley's average 5.5 dimes per game. Opponents have yet to find an equal to Jefferson's speed and quickness, as she leads the Connecticut squad in steals with 29.
No. 21 California
The Golden Bears, who also advanced to the 2013 Final Four last April, enter Sunday's showdown riding a six-game winning streak. UConn and Cal share one mutual opponent in Duke, to whom the Golden Bears ceded their first loss of the season back on Nov. 10 by a twelve-point deficit.
Junior Reshanda Grey leads the squad in scoring, averaging 15.9 points per game for the Golden Bears. Rookie Courtney Range has owned the glass for Cal, averaging 9.7 rebounds per game. Senior veteran Afure Jemerigbe ranks second on the roster with 11.8 points per game. Whereas only one Husky hails from Connecticut on the UConn squad, eleven of the thirteen players on California's roster call the Golden State home.