UConn-Mississippi State women's basketball rematch could happen this fall

Published on Wednesday, 13 May 2020 18:28
Written by CARL ADAMEC


There is no telling how many times over the last three years that ESPN has replayed Morgan William’s buzzer-beating shot that gave Mississippi State a victory that snapped the UConn women’s basketball team’s 111-game winning streak.

Count on seeing it over and over again when Thanksgiving weekend comes around in a little over six months.

UConn and Mississippi State will take part in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at Mohegan Sun Arena. On Nov. 28, the Huskies will take on in-state foe Quinnipiac, while the Bulldogs will face Maine. The championship and consolation games will be Nov. 29.

It will be the seventh straight season that UConn has played in an event sponsored by the Hall of Fame at Mohegan Sun Arena, but this is the first time it’s been a two-game event. Last season’s showcase was a one-day affair that was a doubleheader with UConn-Oklahoma and Florida State-Michigan.

“Playing at Mohegan is always a great chance for our fans in another part of our state to come and see us play,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement.

The Huskies are 27-0 at Mohegan Sun Arena including 21-0 in American Athletic Conference Tournament play.

UConn rejoins the Big East on July 1.

It will be the third meeting between UConn and Quinnipiac and the first time the Huskies have played an in-state opponent in the regular season since defeating Quinnipiac 117-20 on Dec. 27, 1998. The schools also met in a 2018 NCAA Tournament second-round game at Gampel Pavilion with UConn earning a 71-46 win.

“Challenging ourselves against top-tier, non-conference opponents is a part of the fabric of our program’s success.” Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said in a statement.

If UConn and Mississippi State play, it will mark their first meeting since William’s dramatic shot in the NCAA Final Four semifinals at American Airlines Center on March 31, 2017. It not only ended the Huskies’ NCAA-record winning streak but their unprecedented four-year reign as national champion.

Every player that saw action that night in Dallas has moved on. Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer has as well as he left Starkville for the job at Texas last month. He was replaced by former Tennessee player and Old Dominion coach Nikki McCray-Penson.

The Bulldogs, though, will have former UConn guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter. She played one semester for the Huskies before leaving and ending up at Mississippi State.

The Hall of Fame Challenge is considered a Qualifying Regular Season Multi-Team Event, meaning that it does not count against the regular season schedule limit.

Tickets are expected to go on sale in September.

With the move to the Big East and the Huskies playing 20 league games compared to the AAC’s 16-game schedule, UConn is two games over the NCAA limit for games in 2020-21.

Along with the Hall of Fame Challenge, UConn has contracts to host Arkansas-Little Rock, Dayton, Maryland, South Carolina, and Texas, while visiting Baylor, California, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The Huskies are also hoping to finalize a neutral-site contest with Louisville.

Adebayo moves on

Former UConn forward Evelyn Adebayo has signed a professional contract with the Phantoms, a team in Boom, Belgium.

Adebayo, a graduate transfer from Murray State and native of London, England, averaged 1.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 6.5 minutes over 22 games in her one season with the Huskies (29-3). In her one season playing at Murray State in 2018-19, she averaged a double-double (18.2 points, 11.4 rebounds) and was named to the Ohio Valley Conference’s all-league first team.

She received a masters degree in sports management from UConn.

Recruiting update

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and the NCAA have initiated a review of potential alternative recruiting opportunities for student-athletes from the Class of 2021 and beyond.

The WBCA Executive Committee and the Board of Directors for the NABC have also recommended to the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee an extension of the current recruiting dead period through July 31. The NCAA-established recruiting dead period currently runs through May 31.

“Our commitment to the health and safety of our players, our prospects, and each other outweighs our need to recruit during this uncertain time,” WBCA president Tricia Cullop, the head coach at Toledo, said in a statement. “That is why the WBCA’s community of coaches joins the NABC and our colleagues in men’s basketball in supporting an extension of the current recruiting dead period through July 31.

“I also want to assure the Cass of 2021 that we have not forgotten you. The WBCA is committed to working with the NCAA, high school and club coaches, and non-scholastic event operators on making adjustments to the current recruiting calendar so that we college coaches have an opportunity to see you, evaluate you and recruit you once medical experts say it is safe for everyone involved. We want to give all of you a chance to play college women’s basketball. You are our future.”

Posted in Newington Town Crier, UConn on Wednesday, 13 May 2020 18:28. Updated: Wednesday, 13 May 2020 18:30.