It is an experience unlike any other for the Huskies. It is the Villanova Experience and it is next on the schedule as No. 3 UConn will host the Wildcats Tuesday at the XL Center.
Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis remembers well playing against Villanova and its deliberate, 3-point-happy style for the first time a year ago. And it was not much fun.
“It was hard for me last year going to Villanova and getting screened that many times and having to remember how I’m supposed to play this screen and who’s a shooter and who’s not. It’s going to be tough. Coach (Geno Auriemma) told us that this is going to be a good test for our team to see where we are mentally and see how patient we can be.’’
The Wildcats are 16-3 (5-1 Big East), fresh off of Saturday’s 64-59 win over No. 22 Syracuse. It was their first win over a Top 25 Big East team since a victory over then-No. 25 DePaul Feb. 14, 2009.
Villanova is averaging just 59.6 points. However, it is eighth in the nation in scoring defense (50.0).
The Wildcats, who regularly like to drain the 30-second shot clock, also lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game (11.4).
“It’s a mental challenge,’’ UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “Obviously, their style plays different than most teams. They like to use up all 30 seconds. They like to test you. They’ll back you down. They’ll clear everybody out. They’ll run flare screens and just constantly run, run, run. So it’s going to be more of mental challenge for us to stay focused for every possession for 30 seconds. You’re not used to doing that. You’re used to playing hard defense for three seconds here, three seconds there and then get the ball and go. So it will be different just because we don’t play too many teams that are like that. And defensively there’s got to be a ton of talking. So communication is key for that.’’
Here is another fascinating stat pertaining to Wildcats … 44.6 of their 1,054 shots this season have been 3-pointers. They are averaging 7.6 made 3-pointers (20th nationally) on 24.7 attempts per game.
“I think it’s difficult to defend a team that that’s all they’re going to shoot,’’ Auriemma said. “One of the reasons why they’re really good this year is they scored 65 points against DePaul (Jan. 9) and won by 20 and only made three 3s.’’
The Huskies have spent a great deal of time beyond the 3-point arc too this season. They are averaging 8.8 made 3-pointers per game, which is fifth in the nation, on 24.1 attempts. Also, 37.6 percent of their 1,216 shots have been 3-pointers.
Just don’t expected UConn to get sucked into a 3-point shooting contest with the Wildcats.
“Definitely not,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “We’re going to use our height to our advantage. With Stefanie (Dolson), I don’t think anybody can guard her in there so we’re going to get it in there as much as we can. And whenever she’s double-teamed or whenever they feel like they’ve got to double her or stop her, she’ll kick it out to us when we’re open.’’