Uncasville Conn–When the Huskies comes out firing on all cylinders it is very difficult for any team to compete with them on that night. USF found out the hard way facing a suffocating defense and hot shooting hand of Katie-Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier.
The Bulls (24-8) overall with an 11-6 in the American Athletic Conference play beat Temple 63-58 in the semi-final game looking to redeem themselves for past years failure against the Huskies. #1 UConn enters the game 31-0, 16-0 in the American Conference.The Huskies knew they had to be on the there a game to beat the high energy Bulls’ team.
The 100-44 win had the Bulls looking confused and dejected, it was over by the firstperiod. The win was the 107nd-straight for the Huskies, as they sit and wait for NCAA selection announcement.
After a 12-0 start for UConn, the Bulls couldn’t get the right flow of their offense and were missing open shots that they normally would make. Credit that to the UConn swarming defense and match up zone presses.
Samuelson went 10 for 10 from beyond the three-pointer arc on her way to 40 points, dismissing all doubts that the Huskies aren’t about their business. UConn sent an early public service announcement to everyone that they are the real deal.
“I tried to focus on just playing and they were kind of going in. I kept shooting and it felt good and I was getting open shots and my teammates kept getting me the ball so I was going to keep shooting until actually I was going to keep shooting.” Said UConn Katie-Lou Samuelson.
Samuelson ten 3-pointers broke the NCAA record for most consecutive three pointers made without a miss. That mark also moved her past Maya Moore for the single-game UConn record for total 3-pointers made and was two short of breaking the NCAA record.
The Huskies has not lost to an AAC opponent since the league was formed four seasons ago. UConn took the life from the Bulls as soon as the ball was tipped off.
Samuelson was named most outstanding player in the tournament after having the scoring output and defensive effort throughout the three games series.
Napheesa Collier was named to the All-Tournament team with teammate Gabby Williams. Also on the team: Feyonda Fitzgerald of Temple, and USF teammates Maria Jespersen and Kitija Laksa.
“I think in the game you don’t really appreciate it because you want to make them miss shots, but sitting here after the game, I am kind of amazed by that.” Said South Florida guard Maria Jespersen.
It’s the fourth year in a row that a Husky player won most outstanding player in the tournament. Breanna Stewart won in 2014, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis in 2015 and Stewart in 2016.
Gabby Williams had 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting to improve her field-goal percentage in nine career AAC tournament games to 80.8 percent. Chong had 11 points, Natalie Butler finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Kia Nurse chipped in nine points and six assists for the Huskies.
Samuelson couldn’t miss in the first half, going 7 for 7 from beyond the 3-point arc and 9 of 11 from the field en route to 29 points which left her one point short of Tiffany Hayes’ program record for points in a half.
“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. 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.” Said UConn Katie-Lou Samuelson.
South Florida Dorottya Nagy had 15 points, 3 steals and Kitija Laksa chipped in 12 points and 2 rebounds.
UConn outscored South Florida 38-20 in the paint and 17-2 on the fast break. The one thing that remains consistent with Connecticut is their help and weak-side defenses. UConn doesn’t have a true shot blocker in the paint but what they can do well is make you play faster than you want to and force teams to make mistakes.