The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)




When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Finneran Pavilion in Villanova, Pa.

Records: UConn (23-4, 15-1 Big East), Villanova (23-4, 14-2)


UConn Sports Network, WGCH 1490 AM (Greenwich), WAVZ 1300 AM (New Haven), WATR 1320 AM (Waterbury), 97.9 FM-ESPN


First place at stake: The UConn women’s basketball team faces its last, and most challengin­g, regular-season test on Saturday.

The No. 6 Huskies travel to Pennsylvan­ia to face No. 14 Villanova in a Big East showdown with plenty on the line.

Only one win separates the Huskies and Wildcats atop the Big East standings. Plus, UConn has not lost two conference regular season games since the 2012-13 season and the Wildcats would be the most likely opponents to spoil that streak.

Villanova nearly replicated last year’s historic win over UConn last month in Hartford. Thanks to 19 points from Aubrey Griffin and 16 from Dorka Juhász, the Huskies prevented the upset and won 63-58. However, the win was too close for comfort. The Wildcats were within two with 22 seconds left and star forward Maddy Siegrist led all players with 25 points and eight rebounds.

The Huskies had eight available players against the Wildcats last month but only used six. Ayanna Patterson was the only sub off the bench and only played for six minutes while Juhász, Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl all played the full 40.

This time, UConn will have nine available players as it welcomed back Caroline Ducharme from a month-long concussion protocol on Wednesday.

Ducharme scored 10 points (all in the fourth quarter) in 20 minutes in her first game back since Dec. 31. She was UConn’s only sub as the Huskies played in another tight game despite coming out with the two-point win over Creighton.

Saturday’s matchup will be the first big test of UConn’s new depth.

About Villanova: The Big East might as well already give Siegrist the award for conference Player of the Year.

The New York native broke four records in a single game last week, scoring 50 points with 10 rebounds in 32 minutes in the Wildcats’ 99-65 win over Seton Hall on Feb. 11. Siegrist now owns the Big East single-game scoring record, Villanova’s school record for most points in a single game, the Big East record for most field goals in a game (she went 20 of 26), and she is now the all-time leading scorer in the Big East conference history for regular season conference games (1,589 and counting).

In the Wildcats’ very next game, Siegrist scored 39 points in Villanova’s 73-57 win at St. John’s.

Siegrist leads the nation at 29.4 points per game. She’s scored 21 or more points in all of Villanova’s 27 games this season.

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