After coming home from the Bahamas the the Junkaroo Jam at 1-1, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team will face its toughest test of the season on Thursday evening in a matchup against the University of Connecticut.
The game against the Huskies has become a yearly tradition for head coach Anthony Bozzella and his team. Last season, the Pirates traveled to Connecticut and fell to the then No. 1 Huskies, 99-61. Next year, the battles will continue, as UConn re-enters the Big East to add a new flair to the women’s basketball landscape once again.
Geno Auriemma’s squad is ranked at No. 4 in the nation heading into the game. The Huskies also received two first-place votes in the AP ranking and are 83 points behind No. 1 Stanford.
Despite not being the truly dominant program that it once was, the Huskies are still a force to be reckoned with in Division I women’s college basketball. Lead by a variety of forces and an all-time great behind the bench, the Huskies have thunderously started at 6-0.
Heading into Thursday, four Huskies scorers are averaging double-digit points per game. Megan Walker, a junior, is averaging 20.3 points-per-game on the season and was named American Athletic Cnference Player of the Week on Dec. 2.
Not far behind is Christyn Williams, who is averaging 17.8 points-per-game. UConn also has a stron game on the glass, as Olivia Nelson-Ododa brings in 10.2 rebounds-per-game, good enough to average a double-double.
Heading into the game, Seton Hall has plenty of accolades at its back, too.
Alexis Lewis, who is averaging 15.9 points per game and 5.8 rebounds-per-game, was just named to her second Big East Weekly Honor Roll in three weeks. Lewis has stepped up tremendously to keep the Pirates on track after Shadeen Samuels, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, went down with an injury on Nov. 15 against Princeton.
In order to come out on top in front of their home crowd on Thursday, the Pirates will need a total team effort. Bozzella has gotten solid depth contributions throughout his lineup this season, and that will need to continue if Seton Hall wishes to shock the women’s basketball world with a victory. Certainly, when Bozzella scheduled this with Auriemma, he did not expect to be without his best player. However, that is the reality for the Pirates and something that they must overcome.
Defense will be the key to the game if Seton Hall hopes to come out on top. Especially without Samuels, the Pirates are not prolific scorers, as seen with 69, 54, and 55 point performances against Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and St. Joseph’s, respectively. The Huskies will undoubtedly keep the Pirates at bay offensively throughout the night, but the Pirates must to the same in order to keep pace.
Kevin Kopf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @KevinKopfHWH.