Samuelson rewrites record book as UConn wins another AAC title
UConn has had more than its share of remarkable individual performances but in Geno Auriemma's 32 seasons there had been five games when one of his players scored at least 39 points until last Monday night when Napheesa Collier struck for 39 against South Florida. Exactly a week later fellow sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson went on better with 40 points while setting an NCAA Division I women's basketball record by making 10 3-pointers without a miss.
Even as I was in attendance for both of those games, I really have a hard time believing that is actually happened and against a South Florida very likely to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
"I think that shows something about this team, so many different threats and players who can step up
on any given night and be that go-to person," Samuelson said. "It shows why we had so much success so far and how we can always rely on each other because one of us is going to be able to pick the other up. If somebody is not doing well, we have so many people to go to."
Samuelson finished 12 of 14 from the field and made all six of her foul shots en route to the 40-point effort. Nykesha Sales' program record of 46 set against Stanford on Dec. 21m 1997 likely would have been toast had Samuelson not checked out of the game for the final time with 2:19 left in the third quarter. She also had five assists (leaving her two shy of joining Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as the only Huskies with 100 3-pointers and assists in the same season).
Collier was 15 for 19 (2 of 3 on 3-pointers) and 7 of 8 from the foul line en route to her 39-point outburst. She added 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
The fact that UConn doesn't have an abundance of players who will be firing up shots has aided in Samuelson and Collier having a chance to become the first set of UConn teammates to average 20 points per game in the same season.
Collier has 18 games with at least 20 points and the only UConn players with more in a season are Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Nykesha Sales. Samuelson has nine games with at least 25 points which trails only Moore's 16 and Sales' 10 in UConn history.
"Both Lou and Pheesa have unique skills, they are not necessarily just good basketball players, they
have a unique ability to score points so the number of points that they score, the number of shots
that they make it really never surprises me," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "That segment there where we were going with Lou and Pheesa on pick and rolls, if we did that every game the
whole game, they would get 30 every night, that generally is not how we play. Both of them are
benefiting from we don't have a lot of depth so we are not making a lot of substitutions over the
course of the game. This is probably one of the thinnest years that we've had in those 30 years
because normally players know they are going to get 30 minutes every night. They are doing to get
their minutes and they are going to play and they are very efficient, both of them. They generally
don't need a lot of shots to score a lot of points.
"I talked to Lou the other day about that mythical 180 club if you shoot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free throw line it adds up to 180. I think the last player we had to do that was Sue (Bird), it is not easy to do. Today she was 90, 90, 90. She missed two shots and when you talk to players about what they can do, the first words out of her mouth was I need to be a better free throw shooter so there are always things that we are trying to help them with but some of the stuff, her and Pheesa, they kind of brought it with them. They came here with that stuff and we put them in spots where we can use stuff that they have and get a little better."
HERE ARE SOME OF THE UCONN RECORDS SET TONIGHT
3-POINTERS WITHOUT A MISS: Samuelson 10 (NCAA and UConn record)
3-POINTERS IN A GAME: Samuelson 10 (tied with Moore and Mosqueda-Lewis)
POINTS IN A POSTSEASON GAME: Samuelson 40
3-POINTERS IN A CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: Samuelson 17
ASSISTS BY A FRESHMAN IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: Crystal Dangerfield 15
FIELD-GOAL PERCENTAGE IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: Gabby Williams 81.8
Next up is the NCAA tournament. The pairing will be announced a week from tonight.