After struggling against Oklahoma on Wednesday, UConn will look to bounce back with a big win at the No. 14 Cal Bears to stay undefeated heading into the holidays. The game at Cal with serve as senior Katie Lou Samuelson’s de-facto homecoming game after she missed the Huskies game against UCLA with an injury last year.
California is undefeated so far this season, like the Huskies. However this will be UConn’s third ranked contest of the season, and only the first for the Bears. Despite a weaker slate to start the season, Cal’s roster is experienced. Their starting lineup includes four upperclassmen — a grad transfer, two seniors and a junior.
The Bears’ biggest threat is senior Kristine Anigwe, who averages a double-double and leads the team in both points (23.6) and rebounds (13.7) per game. She also shoots 54 percent from the floor. Anigwe is excellent at drawing the foul and attempts nearly eight free throws per game, but shoots just 62 percent from the line.
Outside of Anigwe, Cal is not an exceptional shooting team. They average just 45 percent from the floor, to UConn’s 51 percent and the Bears also only shoot 30 percent from beyond the arc. They are, however, exceptional on the defensive glass and will look to limit UConn’s second chance opportunities.
California has just one game after UConn before heading into a difficult PAC-12 conference schedule. They will look to measure where they stand against high-level competition, and pulling off the win would send them into the holidays undefeated. The Huskies will need to stay focused to avoid another scare on the road.
Keys to the game for UConn
Containing Kristine Anigwe: Cal’s offense runs through Anigwe. The senior has the second highest usage rate in the country at 39 percent, which means she ends nearly 40 percent of the Bears’ possessions. With Anigwe standing at 6-foot-4, Collier looks like the likely choice to defend her. It also presents an opportunity for Olivia Nelson-Ododa to step up.
Staying focused: The Huskies looked distracted and out of sorts in Wednesday’s game. With this being the final game before heading home from the holidays, there will be more distractions heading into it. UConn needs to stay focused on the task at hand to avoid another upset threat.
Offensive rhythm: With the exception of Collier and Williams, the Huskies struggled with their shots and finding an offensive rhythm against Oklahoma. Look for UConn to resume their typical offensive excellence on Saturday. Heading into the holidays with a strong win will also boost their confidence for resuming play on the road at Baylor on January 3rd.
How to watch:
Where: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, California
When: 3 p.m.
TV: PAC-12 Network
Radio: UConn IMG Sports Network