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WBB Preview: No. 11 UConn

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
Freshman guard Maddie Webber was named Big East Rookie of the Week, averaging 19 points in last week’s contests against Providence and DePaul.

The ‘Cats are up one of their biggest tests yet on Wednesday, Jan. 31 as they host No. 11 UConn. Tip-off at the Finn is set for 6:30 p.m.

After a convincing 95–64 defeat of DePaul on Sunday, Villanova advanced to a 6–3 conference and 13–7 overall record.

Meanwhile, head coach Geno Auriemma’s Huskies are looking to maintain their perfect 9–0 record in the Big East while posting another win to their 17–4 overall season.

Scouting the Huskies

UConn has its sights set on the NCAA Tournament, hoping to redeem a disappointing loss to Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen in 2023. Auriemma and the Huskies won their 21st Big East title last season and are well on their way to securing another in 2024.

The Wildcats are the first team in weeks to come up against the Huskies after a loss. UConn’s 13-game winning streak was shattered last Saturday in an 82–67 upset by No. 15 Notre Dame.

At the forefront of the Huskies is redshirt junior guard Paige Bueckers, who averages 19 points per game. Another key member of the UConn squad is senior forward Aaliyah Edwards, who recorded 23 points and eleven rebounds against Notre Dame.

All nine of the Huskies’ Big East contests thus far have been sound defeats. Seton Hall has come the closest, losing to UConn by 24 points on Jan. 17.

‘Cats Ready for a Challenge

While recent back-to-back losses to Creighton and Providence were setbacks for Villanova, the team enters their faceoff against UConn with both the home court advantage and the momentum of Sunday’s win over DePaul.

Villanova has more than a few players to count on for driving the offense against UConn. Four different Wildcats — junior guard Lucy Olsen, freshman guard Maddie Webber, junior guard Zanai Jones, and senior forward Bella Runyan — scored double-digits during Sunday’s matchup. 

Olsen put up a game-high 24 points against DePaul. Olsen is Villanova’s season leader, averaging 24 points per game.

Webber’s outstanding performances against Providence and DePaul earned her recognition as Big East Rookie of the Week. Webber totaled 38 points across the two games and has quickly become a force for the ‘Cats.

On the defensive side, junior forward Christina Dalce leads the team in both rebounds, averaging 11 per game, and blocks, averaging two per game.

As the Villanova roster continues to see improvement, the contest against UConn will be a chance to prove their postseason potential.

Series History

These Big East rivals have a 42–18 all-time series record in UConn’s favor.

The Wildcats faced the notorious Huskies three times in 2023 and never came out with a win. They last defeated UConn on Feb. 9, 2022 in a 72–69 upset.

Villanova most recently hosted UConn on Feb. 18, 2023 before a sellout crowd at the Finn, falling 60–51.

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About the Contributor
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis, Co-Sports Editor
Katie Lewis is a sophomore from Miami, FL in her first year as Co-Sports Editor in 2024. From covering games to writing features and profiles, she loves to find the story behind Villanova sports. Pursuing her enthusiasm for writing and journalism in her studies at Villanova, Katie is double-majoring in English and Communication with concentrations in Journalism and Writing & Rhetoric. When Katie isn’t at Holy Grounds working on her next article, she enjoys playing tennis with Villanova’s club team.
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