After routing SMU in their American Athletic Conference opener on Saturday afternoon, tonight the UConn women’s basketball team will host non-conference rival Duke at the XL Center (9 p.m., ESPN2).
The No. 10 Blue Devils (8-3) have struggled early on against a tough schedule. They lost three straight games earlier this month – all against ranked opponents – by a combined 11 total points. Duke lost at No. 5 Texas A&M (63-59 on Nov. 30), at No. 12 Nebraska (60-54 on Dec. 3), and against No. 1 South Carolina (51-50 on Dec. 7). However, they are coming off an 89-68 victory on Dec. 21 against No. 11 Kentucky.
Duke is a talented team. They have eight players that over 6-feet tall. They are winning games by an average of 22 points. And they are winning the rebound battle by an average of 22 boards. However they are averaging 17 turnovers per game.
The Blue Devils are lead by Elizabeth Williams, who is averaging 14 points and 10.4 rebounds, and Rebecca Greenwell, 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is familiar with the Huskies. She coached at Maine in which she played UConn in both the regular season and in the NCAA tournament in the 1990s. She coached Michigan State is a victory at the XL Center against UConn in 2004. However, in her eighth season at Duke, she has had no success against them.
UConn has won the last seven games dating back to 2007 with the Blue Devils. Their average margin of victory has been 28 points. None of these games have live up to their national billing. Most of these games saw both teams ranked in the top five.
Last season, UConn went to Cameron Indoor Stadium in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle and the Huskies routed the Blue Devils 83-61 behind 21 points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Breanna Stewart scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
This past Saturday, Stewart is coming off a poor shooting performance against SMU. She was 2-for-9 from the field. However, Moriah Jefferson ended her shooting slump with a career-high 24 points in the 96-45 win.
Mosqueda-Lewis tied Maya Moore for second place in the UConn record books for three-pointers made during Saturday’s game. She is eight away from breaking Diana Taurasi’s record at 318.
Of note – Omar Calhoun’s sister Sierra is a freshman at Duke. The 6-foot Calhoun has started all 11 games for the Blue Devils and is averaging 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds. She is second of the team in minutes played at 30.4 per game.
Duke’s last trip to Hartford was a decade ago in which they ended the Huskies then-NCAA home winning record at 69-straight games with a dramatic three-point buzzer beater by Jessica Foley in the 68-67 victory on Jan. 3, 2004.