The UConn women's basketball team is on the cusp of history as the Final Four festivities have begun in Indianapolis and the Huskies get ready to take on the Oregon State Beavers at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
These two teams have met once before, with UConn winning, back in 1995. Obviously, a lot has changed since then.
Beth Mowins will be handling play-by-play for ESPN while Doris Burke has the color commentary with Holly Rowe reporting from the sidelines. If you are unable to watch the game, you can listen to Bob Joyce and Debbie Fiske on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.
This is the ninth straight year the Huskies have made the Final Four, 17th overall, while the Beavers are here for the first time in school history. UConn got here by beating Texas, 86-65, in the Bridgeport Regional Final after demolishing its first three opponents by an average of 52.67 points.
Breanna Stewart comes into this game having won the Wade Trophy for player of the year and AP Player of the Year in addition to multiple first-team All-American nods and is averaging a double-double with 20 points and 12.5 rebounds so far in the NCAA Tournament. She also has 14 assists, 16 blocks and 12 steals in the four games thus far.
Morgan Tuck is averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while Katie Lou Samuelson and Moriah Jefferson are averaging 13.8 and 13 points respectively during the tournament. Samuelson missed the Final Four practice on Saturday as she was under the weather but she is expected to start tonight.
Stewart, Jefferson, and Tuck are one win away from being the winningest recruiting class in program history, their class currently holds a career record of 149-5. A victory tonight would tie the win total of the Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon's class, which went 150-4.
The Huskies come into this game as the highest-scoring team in the country, averaging 88.4 points per game while shooting an astounding 52.4% from the floor. Oregon State will provide a challenge, however, as the team with the country's best defensive field goal percentage at 31.7%. UConn is no slouch in that category either at 33.1%— good enough for fourth in the nation.
With two assists, Jefferson will pass Diana Taurasi for most career assists (648) in UConn history. Given what we know from our Q&A with Oregon State's SB Nation site, Jefferson should be a major terror defensively for the Beavers, who have problems keeping turnovers down.
The Beavers made it into the Final Four by beating No. 1 seeded Baylor, 60-57, in front of a pro-Baylor crowd in the Dallas Regional. They are led by the combination of Jaime Weisner, who joined Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck on the WBCA All-American Team, Sydney Wiese and the Canadian hammer, Ruth Hamblin, a strong defensive presence in the post.
Weisner leads the team in scoring with 19.8 points per game in the NCAA Tournament and is shooting 47.8% from three-point land. Wiese is averaging 12.3 points while Hamblin is averaging a double-double of 11.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. Hamblin also has 14 blocks in the four games and will present a challenge down low for UConn's bigs.
Weisner and Hamblin also happened to play with UConn's Kia Nurse for Canada this past summer. Weisner played on the Canadian Senior National Team in the exhibition games with Nurse and Weisner and Hamblin played on the Canadian Women's Basketball Development team together as well this past summer.