UConn, Syracuse to battle for women’s NCAA title

 Syracuse Orange guard Alexis Peterson (1) dribbles the ball against the Washington Huskies during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Photo Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)

Syracuse Orange guard Alexis Peterson (1) dribbles the ball against the Washington Huskies during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
(Photo Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.–Syracuse and UConn are no strangers to playing each other. The former Big East foes have met 49 times over the years and the two teams will square off for the National Championship on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

For Breanna Stewart and the Huskies, they are searching for their fourth straight title. If UConn (37-0) can pull off the victory, it would be the first time in Division I women’s basketball that such a feat has happened.

Only UCLA, with seven in a row from 1967-73, has done it on the men’s side.

A UConn win would give head coach Geno Auriemma 11 national championships, which is one more than Bruins coach John Wooden for the most ever in the history of college basketball.

Depth has helped the Orange (30-7) land a spot in the finals. Syracuse has eight or nine players that contribute night in and night out.

Guard Alexis Peterson leads the Orange. She averages 16.2 points per game.

Guard Brianna Butler averages 13.5 points and guard Brittney Sykes averages 10.2 for Syracuse. Forward Briana Day averages 11.8 points.

The Orange has surprised many with their defense, which earned them a spot in the finals.

Syracuse has forced 106 turnovers by the opposition during its tournament run, while holding opponents to a field-goal percentage of .397.

The Orange’s success from beyond the arc has been a key to their run. Syracuse’s 143 3-point attempts broke the tournament record set by the 2015 Huskies team and if the Orange hit seven 3-pointers, they would break the mark of 54 also set by last seasons team.

But UConn has yet to be flustered by anyone this season.

Connecticut Huskies forward Morgan Tuck (3) dribbles the ball between Oregon State Beavers guard Sydney Wiese (24), center Ruth Hamblin (44), and guard Gabriella Hanson (11) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

Connecticut Huskies forward Morgan Tuck (3) dribbles the ball between Oregon State Beavers guard Sydney Wiese (24), center Ruth Hamblin (44), and guard Gabriella Hanson (11) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
(Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

UConn is undefeated and teams struggle to contain its high power offense.

Stewart is possibly one of the best to ever don a Huskies’ jersey. The senior guard averages 19.2 points and leads UConn with 17 3-pointers.

Forward Morgan Tuck averages 13.5 points and guard Moriah Jefferson averages 12.6.

The Huskies will be without freshman Katie Lou Samuelson, who broke her foot in the semifinals against Oregon State.

The absence of Samuelson will force UConn to go to a six-player rotation.

Syracuse and the Huskies first played on Dec. 28, 1980 and the two teams played at last once before the Orange moved to the ACC in 2013.

Syracuse has lost its last 23 games against UConn, who leads the series 37-12.

 

Prediction:

UConn will make history and defeat the Orange.

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