UConn to face Cincinnati after big win against Duke
Monday night against Duke, the No. 3 UConn women's basketball team raised the bar for itself, and now it's time to live up to it.
The Huskies started sluggishly against the No. 4 Blue Devils, and went into the locker room with just a two-point lead due in large part to 12 first half turnovers.
But in the second half, a 16-0 run broke the game open and turned it into a 30-point UConn victory.
Now, the real work begins.
"That's the standard now, that's our precedent," Kelly Faris said of the second half against Duke. "And if we go below that that's unacceptable. So anything less than that should not be acceptable during practice, during games, during shoot-around, whatever it may be."
On Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati, Faris and her teammates will face their first test in keeping that same intensity rolling for the remainder of the season.
The Bearcats enter the contest in the midst of a five-game losing streak and having lost seven of their last eight games, are struggling to overcome the injuries that have plagued them throughout the year.
Only four Cincinnati players have played in all 18 of their games this season, and just three have started at least 15 games, leading to inconsistencies in their lineup from game to game.
On the other side of the matchup, the Huskies are just now returning to full strength.
Morgan Tuck, Breanna Stewart, Kiah Stokes, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Bria Hartley have all been battling injuries throughout most of the season, but all five are expected to be available on Saturday.
Having the entire roster at their disposal will be key for the Huskies in what Faris considers a crucial stretch in their schedule.
"It's pretty much now or never," Faris said. "I think [after the Stanford game] was our other opportunity that we could have really built on the way we played and just really thrive after that, and we didn't. It's getting later in the season and there's not going to be many opportunities to do that. So like I said it's now or never and there's not a lot of time left to try and fix certain things."
One of those things that still might need fixing, however, is the team's penchant for turning the ball over.
Despite leading the country in four offensive statistical categories, UConn is No. 28 in turnovers per game and has given the ball away an average of 14.2 times per game.
On Monday, the Huskies' sloppy play in the first half prevented them from pulling away despite shooting at a 15 percent better clip than the Blue Devils.
But UConn turned the ball over just three times in the closing 20 minutes and outscored Duke 47-19 in the second half as a result.
A game against the Bearcats - who rank No. 305 in the country in steals - could provide the Huskies with an opportunity to work on improving their ball security problem.
Game time is set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Fifth Third Arena. The game can be seen on SNY or heard on 1080 WTIC AM.
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