Published December 22. 2013 4:00AM
New York - The best women's basketball team in the land gets a chance to put its talents on display today at the World's Most Famous Arena.
Top-ranked UConn, fresh off an 83-61 road dismantling of No. 2 Duke on Tuesday, plays No. 21 California in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The nationally-televised game (ESPN) featuring two teams that reached the NCAA Final Four a year ago - UConn went on to win its eighth national title - tips at 1:30 p.m.
The annual doubleheader (Texas A&M plays St. John's at 11 a.m.) honors former Army coach Maggie Dixon, who died in 2006 of a heart arrhythmia following her first season as head coach at Army. She was the younger sister of current Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon.
Cal (7-2) hasn't played a top-ranked team since losing to UConn 77-53 in the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA tournament in Trenton, N.J. It was the last time the two programs have played. The Golden Bears have won six straight and are led by junior forward Reshanda Gray, who averages 15.9 points per game and is shooting 64 percent from the floor, second in the Pac-12.
Cal will also welcome forward Kyra Dunn to the lineup. The junior transfer from Pitt is now eligible and will make her debut with the Golden Bears today.
UConn, meanwhile, has won 17 straight games dating back to its national championship run last season and the Huskies have dominated the early part of their schedule. Their closest win to date was a 72-55 road win over No. 8 Maryland.
UConn is also healthy again as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (elbow) and Morgan Tuck (knee) returned from injuries to help the Huskies beat Duke. Mosqueda-Lewis, in fact, made a career-high seven 3-pointers against the Blue Devils and finished with 21 points. She is one of five UConn players averaging in double figures.
Sophomore forward Breanna Stewart, who had 24 points and 11 against Duke, leads the Huskies in scoring (18.4) followed by guard Bria Hartley (15.2), center Stefanie Dolson (14.5), Mosqueda-Lewis (14.5) and guard Moriah Jefferson (11.0). Dolson (9.7) and Stewart (7.5) are the leading rebounders.
Following today's game, the Huskies will disperse for the holidays before playing their first American Athletic Conference game against Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 29, at Gampel Pavilion (5 p.m., ESPN). The Bearcats are coached by former UConn great Jamelle Elliott. Prior to the game, UConn's 2003 and 2004 national championship teams will be inducted into the Huskies of Honor.
Elliott was an assistant on that team and will be honored along with head coach Geno Auriemma and associate coach Chris Dailey. The following players are also expected to attend: Ann Strother, Ashley Valley, Ashley Battle, Jessica Moore, Maria Conlon, Nicole Wolff and Stacey Marron.