UConn Huskesi faces first Test of the season against No. 3 Texas

The Stags played in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. And Lopez Sénéchal led Fairfield (17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) against the Longhorns, despite missing the second quarter to receive stitches after being hit in the face in the opening frame. But the Stags couldn’t keep up and lost Lopez Sénéchal’s last game in the red-whites to Texas 70-52.

Lopez Sénénchal gets his revenge on Monday.

The 6th-ranked UConn women’s basketball team hosts No. 3 Texas in its first major Test of the year Monday (6:30 p.m., Gampel Pavilion) after officially opening the season last week.

“I feel good about where we are as a group and individually, but I haven’t seen us under any stress yet,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma told media ahead of Sunday’s practice. “We haven’t passed the stress test yet. And tomorrow will be a huge stress test. So, I like being stressed. I think it’s a great thing. You know, I love stress. I love giving it , and I like getting him . I think it’s great. And tomorrow is perfect for us.”

The Huskies only had nine players available in their exhibition game and season opener. On Sunday, Auriemma said Caroline Ducharme could play against the Longhorns depending on how she practices later in the evening.

Ducharme didn’t play in the season opener against Northeastern due to a stiff neck. During the media monitoring phase of Sunday practice, Ducharme was a full participant in drills and spent time practicing offensive sets with the starting lineup.

“She’s just so intent on acting and making a statement and making an impact that we have to like taking her back a little bit and saying, ‘Hey, just relax. You know, take a deep breath,'” Auriemma said. “Because she just wants to play that bad. … She’s spent a lot of time in the last few months or so, a month and a half, two months, shooting the ball and hitting it incredibly well to shoot. But again, you know, we have to make sure she’s 100% fit before she gets out of there.”

While UConn’s injury streak may be about to reverse, the Longhorns are plagued by a mistake of their own.

Texas starting point guard sophomore Rori Harmon played in both of the team’s exhibition games, but she sat out the team’s season opener Friday with a foot injury. On Friday, ESPN reported that Texas’ leading returning scorer, Harmon, is “everyday.”

The Longhorns also lost DePaul Grad transfer Sonya Morris in the third quarter of their season opener to a back injury. There is no confirmation yet as to their status ahead of Monday’s meeting.

Without Harmon and a limited Morris, Texas defeated Louisiana 68-45 but recorded 25 turnovers – the most in a single game since 2018.

But with Texas still having dominant postal players (six of whom are 6ft 2 or taller) coached by Vic Schaefer, Auriemma knows Monday will remain a struggle despite question marks surrounding the availability of Ducharme, Harmon and Morris.

“That’s like a perfect benchmark for ‘We need one more guard,’ and Paige (Bueckers) would have been that guard. ‘We need one more big guy’ because I think it’s going to be really physical and Ice (Brady) would have been that guy,” Auriemma said. “Well, that’s a lot for these guys to have to do all that but it is good.

“You know it works badly that we play without these guys but it works great for the guys that we have because they get extended minutes. So if things go well, they’ll just keep building on that. And when things go bad, it will come to them. So either way, I think it’s going to be really, really good. … For us, these games are necessary because that’s what we expect of ourselves and these are the games that will help you win in March.”

Lopez Sénéchal chose to play at UConn for games like this. While Fairfield played her fair share of competitive games during her time as a stag, she knows the expectations are even higher at Storrs now. In preparation for facing the Longhorns, she’s been helping her new teammates watch movies and go through scouting reports about what she remembers from facing them last spring.

“Obviously I’m looking forward to losing the last game of the season and then having to play your second game of the season against them,” said Lopez Sénéchal. “…For me this year, I’ve only been here a year, so I definitely don’t want to take anything for granted. When I play a big non-conference schedule like (this one), I think I take it, and I think we all take it as a challenge. That’s what I wanted when I came here.”

Swin Cash’s No. 32 retirement

The program will honor former UConn great Swin Cash Monday by retiring her No. 32 to the rafters of the Gampel Pavilion. She joins Rebecca Lobo and Ray Allen as the only former UConn basketball players to have had their number retired. Monday’s ceremony begins about 30 minutes before UConn’s tip against Texas.

“She will only be the second woman on this beam,” said Auriemma. “That’s pretty impressive for a small-town kid in western Pennsylvania who just wanted a chance to play basketball.”

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