Fighting the Lions
Huskies take on Penn State in Top 10 game
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 23:12
The UConn women’s basketball team will welcome Penn State to Gampel Pavilion Thursday night in a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 matchup.
In that contest, the Huskies, ranked third in the country at that point, beat the eleventh-ranked Nittany Lions by a comfortable 18-point margin.
This season, each team enters the matchup ranked one spot higher than a year ago – UConn (7-0) at No. 2 and Penn State (6-1) at No. 10.
The Huskies are fresh off their first win against a top 10 opponent, as they beat No. 9 Maryland at the XL Center on Monday night.
“I like that. I think everybody likes it,” Coach Geno Auriemma said about playing back-to-back top 10 teams. “Our players like it, I believe our fans like it. I think everybody likes it because you know you’re going to get a real competitive game.”
The Terrapins – decimated by injury at the guard position – played physical in the paint with UConn, trying to exploit their frontcourt players. Auriemma expects a different style of play from Penn State, because they are led primarily by stellar guards.
“I think [Penn State junior guard] Maggie Lucas, and she was just a prolific shooter and probably her first two years at Penn State that’s what she’s done,” Auriemma said. “I think now she’s a little more of a scorer, she knows how to get buckets. And [senior guard] Alex Bentley runs the team for them; she gets the ball where it needs to go and she’s as athletic as all heck. That guard combination is as good as anybody we’re going to face all year.”
Lucas and Bentley are the Nittany Lions’ two leading scorers, averaging 21.4 and 12.3 points per game respectively. Lucas has been lethal from three-point range so far this season, shooting at a 56 percent clip.
Despite the challenge it presents, Auriemma believes the short turnaround and the large gap in playing styles between the two UConn opponents this week is a positive for his team.
“You want to try and play as many different styles as you can during the season,” Auriemma said. “And certainly right now there’s a big difference between Penn State’s style of play and Maryland’s style of play, and that’s good. I think that helps us – just like the Maryland game helped us – recognize a few things that we needed to isolate on a little bit more.”
The matchup with the Nittany Lions will be difficult for UConn because sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is listed as questionable for the game. She sustained a quad contusion during the first half against Maryland – her first game back from a concussion –and was unable to return.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on SNY. WTIC and WHUS will have the call on the radio.