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ECU set for trip to UConn

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ECU's Kristen Gaffney (24) drives on Tulane's Meredith Schulte on Dec. 31st, 2016, in Minges Coliseum.

UConn Notre Dame Basketball-3

By Ronnie Woodward
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Connecticut women's basketball team appears to be on an inevitable path to a new NCAA record winning streak, and tonight's opponent is East Carolina. Tip-off at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., is at 7 p.m.

Facing the Huskies, who are 13-0 this season and have won 88 straight dating back to November of 2014, is the second part of likely the most difficult opening two league games for any AAC team. The Pirates lost 61-45 to Tulane on Saturday in Greenville, getting outscored 47-27 after the first quarter.

ECU also lost its final nonconference game, an 82-72 defeat at William & Mary on Dec. 28.

UConn has won four straight national championships and is closing in on its own record win streak of 90 games.

"I think we've got a lot of kids that have never been there before, which I'm not sure helps or hurts us," ECU coach Heather Macy said of playing at UConn.

The Huskies are 6-0 all-time against the Pirates. Last season, they beat ECU 92-46, 84-41 and 92-51.

UConn opened AAC play on Sunday with an 84-48 win at Central Florida. The Huskies have a 50.1 field goal percentage for the season, and they are 100-of-238 (42.0 percent) from 3-point range.

In the loss to Tulane, ECU got another strong performance from graduate post player Kristen Gaffney with 18 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Gaffney has scored at least 18 points in three of the last four outings.

The graduate transfer is eighth in the American in scoring at 16.4 points per game. ECU's second-leading scorer, Bre McDonald, played only eight minutes against the Green Wave and had zero points on 0-for-2 shooting from the field.

Senior guard Khadidja Toure had nine points and an assist, but also a game-high four turnovers. Gaffney had three turnovers.

"Tulane is a very good basketball team and I learned a lot about our team over the past week," Macy said. "It's really the first time we've had adversity going into a season and when you have so many brand new players, you've got to coach through that a little bit and see what you can expect through it."

UConn has Katie Samuelson leading the way with a 20.5 scoring average and Napheesa Collier averaging 19.2 and 7.6 rebounds per contest.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 or follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.