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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, December 21, 2015

UConn rolls by LSU even without Stewart

Whenever the best player in the country misses a game due to a sprained ankle it is obviously a cause for concern.

However, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after Monday night's 86-40 win over LSU that he expects to have Breanna Stewart back when the Huskies face Maryland in next week's Maggie Dixon Classic.

"It wasn't real bad so let's see what we could do, let's get her ready for Monday at shootaround," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after the Huskies won their 46th game in a row. "She tried to talk Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer) into letting her play and Rosemary said no. We have another week so I would expect that she would be back to normal (when UConn plays Maryland in the Maggie Dixon Classic on Dec. 28)."

Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson found out several hours before the game that she would be making her first career start.

Samuelson joined classmate Napheesa Collier in the starting lineup marking the first time the Huskies had two freshman starters since the 2013 Big East tournament semifinals when Stewart and Moriah Jefferson started in a win over Syracuse.

Samuelson had seven of her 14 points in the third quarter. She also had five rebounds and a career-high five assists.

"I wish I had started the game off like that," Samuelson said. "I started the game off a little slow and just needed to do that. It stated to fall into place in the third quarter, it was a good third quarter and I am going to try to build on it."

While Samuelson didn't find out she was starting until several hours before the opening tip, Collier knew she would be making her second straight start all week long. She finished with seven points, 12 rebounds, four steals and a career-high six blocked shots for UConn (9-0).

"I think it was good for us to see that any of us can get hurt at any time we can still win without one of our best players," Collier said.

Stewart who sprained her right ankle in a recent practice when she stepped on the foot of teammate Tierney Lawlor. Sophomore center Natalie Butler, who has been practicing during the last week and was thought to have a chance to make her UConn debut, was also held out of the game as she continued to get comfortable after undergoing surgery in the preseason to repair a torn ligament in her thumb. Junior guard Saniya Chong, who continues to be hampered by IT Band Syndrome causing discomfort around her knee, went through pregame drills but did not play in the game.

Samuelson (ankle) and Gabby Williams (leg) were looked at by Ragle on the bench but Samuelson said she is fine and as for Williams, Auriemma said, "she is good, (Ragle) pronounced her good."

Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin, two of UConn's signees in the Class of 2016, were in attendance and watched the game while sitting behind the UConn bench.

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