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Samuelson powers UConn women to runaway win in AAC final

  • Connecticut's Katie Lou Samuelson shoots over South Florida's Laia Flores, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament finals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Jessica Hill

  • Connecticut's Katie Lou Samuelson, right, shoots over South Florida's Ariadna Pujol, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament finals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Jessica Hill

  • Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma gestures to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Florida in the American Athletic Conference tournament finals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Jessica Hill

  • Connecticut's Gabby Williams shoots over South Florida's Tamara Henshaw, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament finals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Jessica Hill

  • Connecticut's Gabby Williams shoots over South Florida's Maria Jespersen, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament finals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Jessica Hill

  • Connecticut's Katie Lou Samuelson intercepts a pass between South Florida's Ariadna Pujol, front, and Maria Jespersen, back left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament finals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 6, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Jessica Hill



Associated Press
Monday, March 06, 2017

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — When Katie Lou Samuelson focuses on making 3-pointers, she says she often has a poor shooting night.

She definitely had the right mindset on Monday.

Samuelson went 10 for 10 from beyond the arc on her way to 40 points, leading No. 1 UConn to a 100-44 rout of South Florida in the American Athletic Conference Tournament final.

The sophomore set a Division I record for consecutive 3-pointers in a game and also set the tournament’s single-game scoring mark.

“I tried to focus on just playing and they were kind of going in,” Samuelson said. “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.”

Napheesa Collier added 15 points as the Huskies (32-0) won their 107th straight game and extended their conference winning streak to 82 games. Gabby Williams had 12 points, Saniya Chong scored 11 and reserve Natalie Butler had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

UConn has not lost to an AAC opponent since the league was formed four seasons ago. And this one was never in doubt.

Samuelson scored eight points and hit her first two 3-pointers during an opening 12-0 run for the Huskies.

South Florida coach Jose Fernandez used three of his four timeouts in the first quarter in an attempt to slow UConn down, but Collier’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left corner made it 30-11 after 10 minutes.

Samuelson gave UConn its first 40-point lead with her seventh shot from behind the arc in the second quarter. She had 29 points in the first half, and the Huskies, who did not trail at any point during the tournament, led 62-23 at the break.

Samuelson played just eight minutes in the second half. The tournament MVP exited to a loud cheer of “Looooouuu!” from what was basically a home crowd.

“When she gets like that, it’s a thing to watch man,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She probably could have got 50 at least tonight. By the time that first quarter ended, you knew it was going to be a different kind of night for her, a different kind of night.”

Dorottya Nagy had a season-high 15 points and Kitija Laksa added 13 for South Florida (24-8), which has lost three times to UConn this season by an average of 42 points.

The Huskies have beaten the Bulls in all 23 of their meetings, including the last three conference title games.

BIG PICTURE — UConn: Auriemma bristles at the suggestion that UConn’s dominance in recent years is a product of playing in a weak conference. The Huskies have won 22 conference titles, dating to the program’s days in the Big East. UConn has played in a conference tournament final in 27 of the last 29 years.

“People have a tendency to forget that until Notre Dame got really, really good for a couple of years, there weren’t many times in the old Big East that we didn’t do the same thing,” he said. “Maybe not to this extent, but the same thing would happen.”

South Florida: Exhaustion may have been a factor in this one. Laksa, Laia Flores, Maria Jespersen and Ariadna Pujol played every minute of the team’s first two tournament games. In this blowout, Flores played 36 minutes, Laksa and Pujol each played 33 and Jespersen played 29.

“We’re used to playing a lot of minutes,” Jespersen said. “Of course we’re not used to playing back to back to back. But, as Coach said, it’s not an excuse. UConn did the same. They played their starters a lot of time, a lot of minutes.”

ELITE COMPANY — Samuelson becomes just the third Husky to score 40 points in a game. Nykesha Sales holds the school record, scoring 46 against Stanford in 1997. Maya Moore scored 41 points against Florida State in 2010 and 40 against Syracuse in 2009.

RECORD BREAKER — The previous Division I record for consecutive 3s in a game was nine, held by Susan Smith of Eastern Washington, who ended up 9 of 10 in a game against Weber State in 1988, and Cornell’s Keri Farley, who hit all nine of her shots from behind the arc against Georgetown in 1993.

UP NEXT — UConn: The Huskies will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Storrs and are expected to be in the Bridgeport regional. That would mean the Huskies won’t have to leave the state before the Final Four, should they advance that far.

USF: South Florida is expected to be one of three AAC teams to receive an NCAA bid, joining UConn and Temple, which lost to the Bulls in the semifinals.