Advertisement

UConn women’s basketball heads to St. John’s with something to prove: How to watch, what to know

When St. John’s upset UConn women’s basketball at XL Center last February, it felt like a breaking point for the Huskies.

The team had been without Azzi Fudd for more than a month after she reinjured her knee Jan. 15. Aaliyah Edwards and Lou Lopez-Senechal played more than 38 minutes each in a six-player rotation. The team shot just 35.5% from the field as St. John’s hit 50% from 3-point range.

The Huskies (13-3, 5-0 Big East) appear in a similar position as they prepare to face the Red Storm (10-7, 4-1) on the road Saturday (2 p.m., SNY). The team had eight healthy players in that 69-64 loss, and they’re down to nine this season entering its third game without Aubrey Griffin.

But despite the toll injuries have taken over the last three seasons, that adversity has become a new normal for UConn. Coach Geno Auriemma noted that the “unexplainable” challenges began for many of his upperclassmen back when COVID-19 restrictions impacted the 2020-21 season.

“Our seniors, this is all they know. They know bubble, and they know playing somewhat shorthanded,” Auriemma said. “The resilience of these kids is something that’s pretty remarkable. If they’re feeling it, which I’m sure they are, they’ve learned to put it aside and play.”

A fourth season-ending injury in 2023-24 hasn’t destabilized UConn the way it might have in years past. Instead it has gotten more dominant with six consecutive wins by 20-plus points, three of those against top 25 opponents. A 94-50 rout of No. 22 Creighton wasn’t enough to stop the No. 13 Huskies from dropping a spot in the AP poll though, which says they still have plenty to prove.

St. John’s is no stranger to playing spoiler: The Red Storm struggled early in the season but are on a hot streak after upsetting No. 23 Marquette last week, 57-56. Their only conference loss is to Creighton, and the team has not lost at home since Nov. 16.

“(Coach Joe Tartamella) gets tremendous mileage out of kids that haven’t necessarily spent a lot of time in the program. He’s able to bring new players in and they blend in fairly quickly,” Auriemma said. “They’re a very difficult matchup for everybody in our league. They play great defense, run great stuff on offense.”

The catch for the Red Storm is that they have historically performed better against the Huskies in a hostile environment. Three of UConn’s five losses in the series came at home, including the last two. St. John’s also won’t have the same home-court advantage of Carnesecca Arena that it got against Marquette. Instead, it will host the Huskies a train ride away from campus at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York.

“I would expect the game is going to be played like a typical Big East game,” Auriemma said. “I wish it was on campus to be honest, and I know he does too. That would have been a great environment in there.”

How to watch

Site: UBS Arena; Elmont, NY

Time: 2 p.m., Saturday

Series: UConn, 45-5. Last meeting: St. John’s, 69-64, Feb. 21 at XL Center

TV: SNY

Streaming: SNY.tv

Radio: UConn Sports Network on Fox Sports 97.9