Women’s Basketball: Big East Notebook, Feb. 28

Game of the Week

Connecticut at Notre Dame — Monday, 6 p.m.

Notre Dame’s perfect Big East record will be put to the test on Monday when the Fighting Irish host the Huskies in the regular season finale for both teams. UConn trounced last-place Pittsburgh Tuesday 76-36, and Notre Dame took care of business against Syracuse Tuesday 79-68. Notre Dame won the last meeting between the two squads, and it’s quite possible they will meet at the closing stages of the NCAA tournament.

Player of the Week

Andrea Smith, Sr. G, South Florida

Smith paced the Bulls to two huge victories last week over No. 12 Louisville and No. 21 Syracuse. Smith tied her career high at Louisville with 35 points on 5-of-6 shooting from long range and scored 18 points and had nine boards against Syracuse. South Florida is 8-6 in the Big East but has a tall task ahead of it this Saturday when it plays UConn.

This week marks Smith’s second Big East Player of the Week nod. Her first was during the week of Jan. 14. In addition, this is just the ninth time in USF history that a Bull has been named Big East Player of the Week.

Stringer reaches 900 wins

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer earned her 900th career victory Tuesday night when the Scarlet Knights upended South Florida 68-56. The fifth time was the charm for Stringer, as Rutgers had dropped its previous four and was out of contention for a first-round bye in the Big East tournament. Stringer is the fourth Division I women’s basketball coach to join the 900 club and the seventh coach overall between men’s and women’s basketball.

The next coach on the list aiming for 900 wins is Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, who has 861.

Pitt vs. UConn matchup proves uneventful

Pittsburgh, entering Tuesday’s game at UConn 0-13 in conference play, was not expecting to make a significant impression on the Huskies. And it surely didn’t. The Panthers continued their winless streak and fell to Geno Auriemma’s bunch 76-36. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points and 13 rebounds to set the tone for the Huskies.

Pittsburgh actually led 8-7 early, but that advantage did not last long. UConn has more challenging games ahead – this Saturday at a strengthening South Florida club and Monday at No. 2 Notre Dame to close out the season.

Officially an improvement year for Marquette

With its 81-70 road win at lowly Providence Tuesday night, Marquette picked up its fifth conference victory, an improvement from last year’s 4-14 struggle. The team is still quite young and could use this year’s and last year’s experiences to make a push for 10 league wins next season and a Big East tournament first round bye. Marquette’s two remaining games are certainly winnable: at 5-9 Georgetown this Saturday and hosting 3-11 Cincinnati on Monday.

Highest, lowest attendance figures as season concludes

Providence has the lowest average attendance numbers in the Big East. Mullaney Gymnasium at Alumni Hall holds 2,620, but the Friars have brought in just 565 fans per game this season. Their largest crowd of the year so far was 1,278. Compare that to Connecticut, which draws an average of 9,753 fans per contest between the XL Center in Hartford and the Gampel Pavillion in Storrs.

The Al McGuire Center, which has a capacity of 3,812, has had 1,715 people at Marquette games on average. Big East women’s basketball games have averaged 2,749 people per game this season.

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