Carl Adamec

The Connecticut Huskies pose for a photo after defeating the Oregon Ducks 90-52 in the finals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II)
The Connecticut Huskies pose for a photo after defeating the Oregon Ducks 90-52 in the finals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Three 2017 NCAA tournament regional champions took home nets after advancing to the Final Four.

The nets that the University of Connecticut women's basketball team wants, though, are still attached to the baskets at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

So while their newest t-shirts read "Cut the Net" and they wore them proudly Monday night, no ladders were needed following the top-seeded Huskies' 90-52 win over No. 10 Oregon in the Bridgeport Regional final at Webster Bank Arena. Though it is not a team rule -- associate head coach Chris Dailey asked the starters on the bench in the final seconds if they wanted to do it -- they maintained their tradition that started in 2009 with Renee Montgomery that the only time they cut down a net is after the national championship is secured.

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. (Raymond Carlin III/USA Today Sports Images)
. (Raymond Carlin III/USA Today Sports Images)

BRIDGEPORT -- Saniya Chong was celebrating with her University of Connecticut women's basketball teammates Monday night after their 90-52 win over Oregon in the NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional final at Webster Bank Arena.

The senior guard then heard her name announced over the public address system and could not figure out why. So she turned to classmate Tierney Lawlor to find out why.

Lawlor -- the Dean's List student she is -- of course, had the answer. Chong had been selected to the regional all-tournament team, the first such honor of her career...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier, Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Carl Adamec
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GEICO SportsNite: UConn advances 00:03:17
The UConn women's basketball team defeated Oregon, 90-52, to move on to their 10th straight Final Four appearance.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- As time wound down on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's 90-52 rout of Oregon in the NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional final at sold-out Webster Bank Arena, coach Geno Auriemma mentioned to his players that it was the Huskies' 10th straight Final Four berth.

Newly-minted All-American Katie Lou Samuelson, who has been ridden hard by Auriemma for two seasons now, was not impressed.

"You suck. You're not very good at this," Samuelson said to the Hall of Fame coach with full sarcasm.

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 (Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The old saying that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores could not ring more true for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

While Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson were key contributors to the Huskies' 2016 national championship as rookies, they always knew that Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck would be there to bail them out if needed. But the Big Three's graduation meant Collier's and Samuelson's days in the background were over if UConn was to remain among the elite.

Among the reasons the Huskies are one win away from their 10th straight NCAA Final Four appearance is the play of their sophomore sensations. They were rewarded for their efforts Monday by being named to the five-player Associated Press All-America first team...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma waits for the officials from the sideline as they take on the UCLA Bruins during the second half in the semifinals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma waits for the officials from the sideline as they take on the UCLA Bruins during the second half in the semifinals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- In their three seasons with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, the Huskies have not lost a game that Kia Nurse has started nor one that Gabby Williams has played in.

But with a career mark of 111-1 and through two national championship runs, the UConn juniors know to take nothing for granted.

So while the numbers favor the top-seeded Huskies in their NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional final showdown with No. 10 Oregon at Webster Bank Arena Monday night, the only numbers that matter will be the ones on the scoreboard after 40 minutes of action.

"The fact that you get to go to a Final Four doesn't happen every single year," Nurse said. "I could go to the Final Four this year, and it could be my last one. Last year's could be the last one that I ever go to.

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Oregon Ducks forward Ruthy Hebard shoots against Maryland Terrapins guard Kaila Charles during the first half in the semifinals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)
Oregon Ducks forward Ruthy Hebard shoots against Maryland Terrapins guard Kaila Charles during the first half in the semifinals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Ruthy Hebard was born in Chicago but was less than a week old when her adopted family brought her to Fairbanks, Alaska, to live.

When the 18-year-old University of Oregon women's basketball team's freshman center arrived in the 49th state the biggest name in Alaska high school ball was Jessica Moore, who was the 1999 and 2000 state Gatorade Player of the Year before moving on to the University of Connecticut.

"I have heard of her," Hebard said on Sunday. "She was a great player and played at UConn. I've never met her. I wish I could."

If Moore is following her alma mater in the NCAA tournament, she'll have a chance to see Hebard in action. The top-seeded Huskies take on No. 10 Oregon in the Bridgeport Regional final Monday night at Webster Bank Arena.

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 (Logan Bowles)
(Logan Bowles)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Batouly Camara hasn't recorded a point, rebound, or blocked shot for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team this season as she sits out due to NCAA transfer rules.

But the 6-foot-2 forward from New York City fulfills her role in practice, working to improve her game and helping her teammates get better. So far, so good.

"It's been extremely rewarding," Camara said. "I've learned so much this year. The most important part for me has been to stay focused so that I can help the team anyway that I can. I come in every day with a role and I want to execute that role. When I'm in practice, I'm challenged. Am I getting better every day? Am I helping the team get better every day? What am I doing to get better? What else can I do? That's kept me motivated...

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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma (L) looks on from the sideline against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma (L) looks on from the sideline against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. - Geno Auriemma has seen his University of Connecticut women's basketball team's name come up in 29 straight NCAA tournament selection shows.

So while many of the comments during the program may go in one ear and right out the other of the Hall of Fame coach, something ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said on the March 13 show got Auriemma's attention.

"They handle it and they embrace it. They're ones who think pressure is a privilege and that comes from Geno Auriemma," Bilas said. "I think they address it, don't act like they are above it, they address and attack it head on."
 

Tags: Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
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 (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)

There has been talk throughout the season that Geno Auriemma has done his best job of coaching the University of Connecticut women's basketball team in this his 32nd year. Considering the Hall of Fame coach has led the Huskies to a record 11 national championships and is the game's all-time leader in winning percentage, that's saying something about what UConn has done so far this season.

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association has noticed and on Thursday it named Auriemma as its 2017 Coach of the Year. He will be presented with the Pat Summitt Trophy, named for the late legendary University of Tennessee coach, during the 2017 WBCA Convention to be held in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four in Dallas.

"Geno continues to raise the standard of excellence in the coaching profession," WBCA executive director Danielle Donehew said in a statement. He is a teacher of the game, and the development of his student-athletes both on and off the court this season has been remarkable, a masterpiece. Geno is very deserving of the WBCA's highest praise for the coaching profession, as confirmed by the vote from his respective peers."

The top-seeded Huskies (34-0 and winners of 109 straight games) will continue their bid for a fifth consecutive national championship Saturday when they take on No. 4 UCLA in a NCAA Bridgeport Regional semifinal game at Webster Bank Arena...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Saturday, March 4, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) (Jessica Hill/AP)
during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Saturday, March 4, 2017, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) (Jessica Hill/AP)

STORRS, Conn. -- Gabby Williams got position in the lane and Saniya Chong delivered the pass right on time.

Williams turned to her left and took a a dribble to get away from Syracuse's Briana Day, and converted the left-handed layup over Day with 4:35 gone in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional second-round game Monday night.

Since the pass did not directly lead to the basket, Chong was not credited with an assist. It was the only Huskies hoop without an assist attached to it in the first three quarters. Top-seeded UConn finished with 30 assists on 33 baskets in its 94-64 rout of No. 8 Syracuse at Gampel Pavilion.

"Take a minute to think about that," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It's just unusual to do what we did and we do it quite often. That's why we can have performances like we had today because our ball movement was incredible.

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
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 (Steven Branscombe (USA Today))
(Steven Branscombe (USA Today))

STORRS, Conn. -- Senior Saniya Chong was ready to charge the court as if the University of Connecticut women's basketball team had won another national championship.

Chong's classmate, Tierney Lawlor, appeared to have an opening for a 3-point shot as time wound down on the top-seeded Huskies' 94-64 rout of No. 8 Syracuse in a NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional second-round game at Gampel Pavilion Monday night. But the Ansonia native, who is 0-for-8 from the floor this season, passed it up.

"I wanted to run out there and scream in T's face, 'Why didn't you shoot that?' " Chong said with a smile.

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Carl Adamec
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Geno Auriemma on UConn's win 00:01:09
Justine Ward talks with Geno Auriemma after UConn's win over Syracuse to advance to the Sweet 16.

STORRS, Conn. -- The one University of Connecticut women's basketball player that Syracuse should know best is Kia Nurse.

Nurse's aunt, Raquel, played for Syracuse from 1995-98 and is fourth on the Orange's all-time assist list. Nurse's uncle by marriage is legendary Syracuse and former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, who serves today on the school's Board of Trustees.

But Monday night, Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman's defense treated Nurse like she didn't exist, leaving the Huskies' junior guard open from 3-point land and daring her to shoot.

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn preps 00:01:56
Justin Ward talks to Katie Lou Samuelson about how the UConn Women's basketball team is preparing for Syracuse on Monday.

STORRS, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson could only sit on the bench and watch the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's national championship game win over Syracuse last April after breaking a bone in her left foot two days earlier.

The Huskies' sophomore guard didn't have to wait all that long to get a shot at the Orange.

"It's cool to have a chance to play them again," Samuelson said Sunday. "But really it's an opportunity to play another real good team. We'll be excited for it and ready to go."

The top-seeded Huskies go for their 24th straight NCAA tournament Sweet 16 appearance Monday when they entertain No. 8 Syracuse in a Bridgeport Regional second-round game at Gampel Pavilion. Tip off is at 6:35 p.m. It's a rematch of last year's final won by UConn 82-51 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn women 00:01:29
Kia Nurse breaks down the Huskies' game and stresses the need to stay competitive while Geno Auriemma previews Syracuse.

STORRS, Conn. -- The toughest part for Kia Nurse during her four-game absence from the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's lineup last month was staying off her injured right ankle to give it a chance to heal.

But the 12-day break between the American Athletic Conference tournament final and the start of the NCAA tournament allowed the Huskies' junior guard to get back in the routine she's accustomed to.

Her work paid off Saturday.

Nurse had 24 points, going 6-for-7 from 3-point land, as the top-seeded Huskies routed No. 16 Albany 116-55 in a NCAA Bridgeport Regional first-round game before a crowd of 5,670 at Gampel Pavilion.

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 (Steven Branscombe)
(Steven Branscombe)

STORRS, Conn. -- Geno Auriemma is never at a loss for words, but the University of Connecticut women's basketball coach never thought he'd say what he did Friday.

"If we could go back in time four years ago and tape this segment and hear these words come out of my mouth, 'I don't know where we would be without Saniya Chong,' I'd say, 'Somebody dubbed that into Coach Auriemma's mouth,' " Auriemma said during a press conference here. "Now here we are four years removed and I don't know where we would be without Saniya right now. That's how much she has changed and how much she has added to our program.

"It was two years ago when Saniya said she wanted to keep playing after college. I said something like, 'I'm sure there are many pickup leagues back in Ossining, New York, that would love to have you as part of their program.' Now having watched her play this year I'm thinking, 'You know, there is a place for her to play next year.' I told her at the conference tournament,' I don't know how many people understand this, but you might be the most important person out on the court for as long as we are in the NCAA tournament.' 

Tags: Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
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 (Raymond Carlin III)
(Raymond Carlin III)

STORRS, Conn. -- Molly Bent was a 4.0 student in high school -- and is a Dean's List student here -- for a reason. While the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's freshman guard loves her sport, school was her priority.

So when that first Thursday of the men's NCAA tournament rolled around, Bent found herself in a classroom and not in her living room watching games.

"I always enjoyed going to school," Bent said Friday. "But on the weekend days my family made sure that we got everything done in the morning and then once noon hit we'd sit in front of the television and watch game after game after game. We'd fight over which game to watch. Every year we'd do tournament brackets, like ESPN, within our family. I'm in the lead right now, actually tied with my brother and dad. My strategy picking teams? Go with my gut."

Crystal Dangerfield was a member of the Honors Program at Blackman High in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. But when the college postseason came around in March and there was a game, she'd find a way to watch.

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Kyla Irwin, Molly Bent, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Maryland Terrapins guard Chloe Pavlech (15) works for the loose ball against Connecticut Huskies guard Bria Hartley (14) during the second half at the XL Center. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Maryland Terrapins guard Chloe Pavlech (15) works for the loose ball against Connecticut Huskies guard Bria Hartley (14) during the second half at the XL Center. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- Chloe Pavlech played in two NCAA Final Four semifinals with the University of Maryland women's basketball team, but was denied a third time as a senior when Washington eliminated the Terrapins in the tournament's second round.

With her playing days done, the Cincinnati native made her way to Indianapolis and the 2016 Final Four in a different role as she took part in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "So you want to be a coach" program.

By that time, Pavlech had already started work on her masters degree as the two-time all-Big Ten academic selection had earned her bachelor's in journalism in three years. Coaching, though, would allow her to stay close to the game she had been a part of most of her life.

She reached out to University of Connecticut assistant coach Marisa Moseley, who was one of the first to recruit her when Moseley was on the Minnesota staff.

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 (Chris O'Meara/AP)
(Chris O'Meara/AP)

STORRS, Conn. -- Gabby Williams always thought of herself as an athletic basketball player, not an athlete who plays basketball.

But somewhere between her time at Reed High in Sparks, Nevada, and her arrival at the University of Connecticut, the thinking for some changed.

"In high school, no one ever felt that I was just an athlete and it kind of happened when I got to college," Williams said. "It's been a back-and-forth struggle. Starting my freshman year I heard, 'She's a great athlete. She's a great athlete.' Well, what I'm going to do is prove that I'm a lot more than that."

She's done it better than even the Huskies could have expected.

Tags: Gabby Williams, Carl Adamec
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 (Photo courtesy USA Basketball)
(Photo courtesy USA Basketball)

STORRS, Conn. -- The look of excitement and surprise was all over Katie Lou Samuelson's face when WNBA star Elena Delle Donne visited Mater Dei High in California and presented her with the 2015 Gatorade national Player of the Year award.

"They called the senior class out for a rally and I thought I was doing a photo shoot, but obviously there was other stuff going on," Samuelson said. "Elena was really nice, just awesome. I look up to her and love watching her play. It was so cool."

Megan Walker knows exactly how her future teammate with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team felt...

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Feb 22, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) react after a play against the Temple Owls in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 22, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) react after a play against the Temple Owls in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Katie Lou Samuelson follows her own path, even when she's on the foul line.

While her older sisters, Bonnie are Karlie, are role models, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's sophomore guard approaches free throws in a way that's best for her.

"Bonnie, Karlie, and I have a similar shot routine," Samuelson said. "Karlie takes three dribbles and shoots. Bonnie would take three dribbles and spin it in the air and shoot it. I take three dribbles, spin it and let it drop, and shoot it. I chose mine when I was younger because I saw what they were doing and wanted to be different."

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and teammates celebrate their championship win over the South Florida Bulls during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and teammates celebrate their championship win over the South Florida Bulls during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)

STORRS, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson takes pride in what the University of Connecticut women's basketball team has accomplished the last four months.

But what the Huskies do the next three weeks is what they'll be remembered for.

"We've done a lot of things people didn't expect this season," Samuelson said Monday after UConn was given the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament and the top seed for the Bridgeport Regional. "We all kind of thought we could do it, but we didn't look so far ahead. We took every single game one game at a time, and I think that's why we had the success we did because we weren't looking ahead to the streak or anything else going on. We just kind of focused on what we had to do that day.

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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- The Big East was in its fourth season when Geno Auriemma became the coach of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team in 1985.

The following March, the league sent two teams to the NCAA tournament for the first time.

The American Athletic Conference finished its fourth season Monday night and the Huskies remained perfect in league play (82-0) in that span. Top-seeded UConn capped off its latest run by rolling past No. 3 South Florida 100-44 in the AAC tournament final at Mohegan Sun Arena...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) reacts after her three point basket against the South Florida Bulls in the second half of the championship game during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) reacts after her three point basket against the South Florida Bulls in the second half of the championship game during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson put on a show Monday night for 6,448 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena, a national television audience, and her University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

But Huskies' freshman Crystal Dangerfield had seen the act before.

On June 23, 2013, in the gold-medal game of the FIBA Americas U-16 tournament in Cancun, Mexico, Samuelson scored 24 points on a USA Basketball record 8-for-8 effort from 3-point land to lead Team USA to a victory over Canada.

It was a performance that got the attention of former UConn star and now four-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi, who, at the WNBA All-Star Game a month later, raved about "the kid from Mater Dei" and her stunning performance.

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn champs 00:02:23
Katie Lou Samuelson shot 10-for-10 from beyond the arch to lead UConn to the American Conference title.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- As is tradition with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, the Huskies did not cut down the nets at Mohegan Sun Arena Monday night after wrapping up the American Athletic Conference tournament championship.

It may have been a safety issue as the nets were still too hot to handle after Katie Lou Samuelson got through with them.

Samuelson scored a career high 40 points -- including a NCAA record 10-for-10 effort from 3-point range -- to earn Most Outstanding Player honors as the top-seeded Huskies completed their run to the AAC title with a 100-44 rout of third-seeded South Florida before a crowd of 6,448 at the casino.

"The thing that helped me out it that I didn't start out the game focused on threes," Samuelson said. "I focused on just playing. Then they were going in and I kept shooting it and they felt good. I was getting open shots and my teammates kept getting me the ball so I was going to keep shooting."

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn wins 00:01:46
The Huskies defeated UCF, 78-56, to advance to the AAC title game.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Playing three games in three days can take its toll.

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team is pleased, though, that it will deal with that after advancing to the American Athletic Conference championship game Sunday. Napheesa Collier had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Gabby Williams added 16 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Huskies downed No. 4 Central Florida, 78-56, in semifinal action at Mohegan Sun Arena.

But playing a game, no matter how many in a row is better than going to practice, right?

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn women 00:02:46
Justine Ward catches up with Geno Auriemma after the Huskies breezed past Tulsa, 105-57, in the AAC Quarterfinals on Saturday.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- It took until his fourth season for Geno Auriemma's University of Connecticut women's basketball team to play 30 games.

Now 30-win seasons are the norm for the Huskies and their hall of fame coach.

Top-seeded UConn reached the plateau again Saturday as Napheesa Collier scored 24 points in a 105-57 rout of No. 9 Tulsa in an American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal game before an announced crowd -- it seemed much larger -- of 5,513 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Huskies (30-0) have won at least 30 games in a NCAA record 12 consecutive seasons and 22 times in the last 24 seasons. 

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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and guard/forward Napheesa Collier cheer from the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and guard/forward Napheesa Collier cheer from the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson joined the University of Connecticut women's basketball team in part to be part of history.

The Huskies' sophomores made some history of their own Friday.

Collier and Samuelson were named the American Athletic Conference Co-Players of the Year at a press conference at Mohegan Sun Arena, site of the fourth annual AAC tournament. It is the first time that a UConn player, let alone a pair of Huskies, has shared the top league honor.

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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 (Steven Branscombe)
(Steven Branscombe)

After the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's win over South Florida on Jan. 10, coach Geno Auriemma compared what junior forward Gabby Williams does on the defensive side of the ball to what linebacker Lawrence Taylor did for the New York Football Giants during his NFL Hall of Fame career.

"Whatever play you're trying to run, it ain't going to happen," Auriemma said. "We switch a lot with her, so one minute she's guarding you and the other guys are like, 'I'm glad she's not guarding me.' Then two sequences later, she is guarding you.

"She is just so disruptive and creates so much so many ways, whether it is a deflection, a steal or some of the blocks that she had or a defensive rebound. She just makes plays that the average basketball player can't make. If you don't watch her play in person, you're really missing out on something special."

The coaches in the American Athletic Conference agreed...

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
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 (Raymond Carlin III)
(Raymond Carlin III)

TAMPA, Fla. -- The University of Connecticut women's basketball team started the 2016-17 season at No. 3 in the Associated Press poll but moved up to the top spot by beating the teams -- Baylor and Notre Dame -- ahead of it.

The Huskies also began the season with no All-Americans nor any first- or second-team all-league players. That will change Thursday when the American Athletic Conference announces its All-Stars and it will change again later this month when national honors are released.

A 29-0 record has its benefits. Top-ranked UConn completed the ninth perfect regular season in program history Monday night by rolling past South Florida, 96-68, at the Sun Dome...

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Feb 1, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) dribbles up court against the Temple Owls during the first half at The Liacouras Center. The Connecticut Huskies 97-69. (Bill Streicher (USA Today))
Feb 1, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) dribbles up court against the Temple Owls during the first half at The Liacouras Center. The Connecticut Huskies 97-69. (Bill Streicher (USA Today))

There is nothing Napheesa Collier would rather do than play basketball.

Over the last several years -- between her high school and college seasons and her offseasons playing either AAU or for her country -- her second home was a basketball court.

But after helping the University of Connecticut win an unprecedented fourth consecutive national championship a year ago, the perpetual motion stopped. Last April 22, Collier had surgery at the UConn Health Center in Farmington to repair a torn labrum in her right hip. The injury originally occurred during individual workouts in the preseason.

Not only did the successful surgery get her back to 100 percent physically, it may have been the break she needed -- lasting about three months -- that would allow her to take her game to another level and emerge as an All-American and conference Player of the Year candidate.

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UConn beats USF, 96-68 00:00:52
UConn defeats USF, 96-68, in the regular season finale, for its 104th consecutive victory.

TAMPA, Fla. -- If the stretch drive in the race for the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year was the Belmont Stakes, Napheesa Collier would be Secretariat.

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's forward closed out the regular season of her breakout sophomore year with a career night for the ages.

Collier had a career-high 39 points to go along with 12 rebounds and four blocks Monday night as the top-ranked Huskies completed their ninth unbeaten regular season and fourth straight American Athletic Conference perfect regular season by coasting past South Florida, 96-68, before a pro-UConn crowd of 5,948 at the Sun Dome.

"Pheesa did what's she's been doing all season," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I don't think there was anything different she did today. She knows where she wants the ball and she goes to that spot and gets it and finishes. She is incredibly efficient and incredibly consistent. She's one of those players who doesn't waste a lot of time or energy. She's hard to play against, no matter who it is."

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The Connecticut Huskies pose for a picture holding their 2017 AAC Regular Season Champions after the game against the Temple Owls at XL Center. (David Butler II)
The Connecticut Huskies pose for a picture holding their 2017 AAC Regular Season Champions after the game against the Temple Owls at XL Center. (David Butler II)

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the University of Connecticut women's basketball team watched Florida State's Imani Wright go up for a 3-point shot at the end of its Nov. 14 season opener, the Huskies weren't thinking about a perfect regular season. They were hoping to survive their first game.

What started up in Tallahassee will come to a close about a four-hour drive via I-10 East and I-75 South away Monday night. And what a long and interesting journey it's been for UConn these past few months.

"It's been crazy when you look back and you're already a game away from postseason play," UConn guard Katie Lou Samuelson said. "Now it seems like it went by so fast. It's up to us now to keep it going."

The top-ranked Huskies will look to complete their second straight and ninth unbeaten regular season overall Monday at 7 p.m. when they face South Florida in American Athletic Conference action at the Sun Dome.

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Nov 20, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Louisiana State Tigers guard Chloe Jackson (0) looks to pass the ball against Connecticut Huskies guard Tierney Lawlor (20) during the game at Maravich Assembly Center. Connecticut Huskies won 76-53. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Louisiana State Tigers guard Chloe Jackson (0) looks to pass the ball against Connecticut Huskies guard Tierney Lawlor (20) during the game at Maravich Assembly Center. Connecticut Huskies won 76-53. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. -- Tierney Lawlor isn't hard to find on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's bench.

She often finds herself in a crouch, much in the way coach Geno Auriemma did in his much younger days. She calls out the offense or defense in the blink of an eye after Auriemma does, though with 144 games on the Huskies' sideline she probably knows what the calls will be before the hall-of-fame coach makes them official.

When the Huskies huddle after the starting lineups are introduced, she -- the soft-spoken one -- is the one doing all the talking.

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 (Steven Branscombe)
(Steven Branscombe)

STORRS, Conn. -- Saniya Chong has picked up the pace and is making up for lost time as her time with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team begins to wind down.

The Huskies' guard enters Saturday's Senior Day game against Memphis at Gampel Pavilion (SNY, 4 p.m.) having played at least 30 minutes in 13 consecutive games, including all but 22 seconds of top-ranked UConn's 90-45 rout of No. 23 Temple Wednesday night at the XL Center. In her first 122 career games, Chong reached the 30-minute plateau seven times.

There may be no rest for the weary but she knows there's only, at most, about five weeks and 11 games remaining...

Tags: Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Carl Adamec
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Feb 22, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Gabby Williams (15) reacts after a basket by guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) against the Temple Owls in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 22, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Gabby Williams (15) reacts after a basket by guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) against the Temple Owls in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

HARTFORD, Conn. - Gabby Williams couldn't recall whether she scored 1,000 points in her injury-shortened scholastic career at Reed High in Sparks, Nevada.

When the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior forward reached the plateau with 3:35 left in the third quarter of top-ranked UConn's 90-45 win over No. 23 Temple at the XL Center Wednesday night, she wasn't aware of the milestone even though teammate Napheesa Collier knew exactly what was going on.

"I had no idea," Williams said. "Pheesa was trying to tell me on the court and I had no idea what she was saying. They told me when I went and sat on the bench."

Williams finished with 15 points and her career total stands at 1,003. She is the 43rd member of the 1,000-point club.

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard Gabby Williams (15) and guard Kia Nurse (11) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) sit on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III)
Connecticut Huskies guard Gabby Williams (15) and guard Kia Nurse (11) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) sit on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III)

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The tough part for women's basketball coaches in the American Athletic Conference for three years was dealing with Breanna Stewart. The easy part for them came in March when they voted the University of Connecticut star the league's Player of the Year.

Stewart has graduated to the professional ranks but the coaches she left behind face an even more difficult task than before when they cast their all-league ballots next week.

Dealing with the Huskies is still tough. Top-ranked UConn clinched its fourth straight league regular season title outright Wednesday night with a 90-45 rout of second place and No. 23 Temple before a lively crowd of 10,149 at the XL Center.

But who's the 2017 AAC Player of the Year? Is it the league's most competent scorer Katie Lou Samuelson? Is it the league's most consistent player Napheesa Collier? Is it the league's most complete player Gabby Williams?

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UConn-Temple Highlights 00:02:29
UConn routs No. 23 Temple at home, 90-45, for its 102nd straight win.

HARTFORD, Conn. -- If the University of Connecticut women's basketball team gave the rest of the American Athletic Conference hope with its narrow escape at Tulane Saturday night, it made a statement to the opposite on Wednesday night.

Sophomore Napheesa Collier had a career-high 31 points, shooting 13-for-14 from the floor, to go along with 13 rebounds and three blocked shots as the top-ranked Huskies clinched their fourth consecutive AAC regular season title with a 90-45 rout of No. 23 Temple before an enthusiastic crowd of 10,149 at the XL Center.

"We shouldn't have put ourselves in that position in the first place," said UConn junior Gabby Williams, who became the 43rd member of UConn's 1,000-point club. "But we did. We have to get back in that momentum swing where we're only going up. At this point of the season we can't afford to have any letdowns."

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Feb 18, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on against the Tulane Green Wave during the first half at Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen Lew)
Feb 18, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on against the Tulane Green Wave during the first half at Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen Lew)

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Last season, the University of Connecticut women's basketball program arranged a homecoming game for Breanna Stewart at Colgate. Next season, homecoming games for junior guard Kia Nurse (versus Duquesne in Toronto) and sophomore guard Katie Lou Samuelson (at UCLA) are set.

But what about Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, who was born in Montella, Italy, on March 23, 1954?

That's on the schedule, too. The Huskies will travel to Italy for 11 days in August. It will be their fifth visit to Europe since 1994.

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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they takes on the Baylor Bears at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they takes on the Baylor Bears at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. - There are 11 national championship banners proudly on display in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's practice facility.

But nowhere in the Werth Family Champions Center gymnasium where the Huskies work out is any mention of the 22 regular season league titles (19 Big East, three American Athletic Conference) that they have won since 1989. Don't think for a second, though, that winning a championship isn't important to them. 

Top-ranked UConn can wrap up its fourth consecutive AAC regular season title outright Wednesday night when it hosts No. 23 Temple at the XL Center in Hartford (SNY, 7 p.m.).

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Jan 28, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) drives the ball against Houston Cougars guard Chyanne Butler (1) in the first half at XL Center. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier (24) drives the ball against Houston Cougars guard Chyanne Butler (1) in the first half at XL Center. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. - Geno Auriemma says plenty to Napheesa Collier in his role as coach of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

But one thing he never has to tell her is to play harder. That's a lesson the sophomore forward took to heart from her parents, Sarah and Gamal, as a youngster whether she was involved in basketball, softball, baseball, soccer and track and field.

"That started really early," Collier said. "I started playing soccer when I was like four years old. My parents really drilled it into me early that it doesn't matter if you are good or not, you have to give maximum effort."

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 (AP)
(AP)

Carl Adamec, SNY.TV:

STORRS, Conn. -- There will never be a 100-game winning streak (or whatever number the streak ends at) banner in Gampel Pavilion as long as Geno Auriemma is the University of Connecticut women's basketball coach.

While there was a championship feel Monday night following the Huskies' 100th consecutive win, no title was on the line. With March two weeks away, 100 percent of their attention is on continuing their championship reigns.

That's how you put up a banner at Gampel Pavilion. 

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
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 (David Butler II (USA Today))
(David Butler II (USA Today))

Crystal Dangerfield has shown that she can be a big-game player for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

What the Huskies need the freshman point guard to be as they approach March and the postseason is an every-game player.

With starting guard Kia Nurse struggling to move with a right ankle injury Monday night, coach Geno Auriemma turned to Dangerfield and she responded with 30 minutes of solid play. She finished with five points, seven assists, and a steal as No. 1 UConn made it 100 straight wins by beating sixth-ranked South Carolina 66-55 at sold-out Gampel Pavilion.

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. -- Breanna Stewart was sitting maybe 20 feet away from where she would have been standing a year ago.

So close, yet so far.

The three-time national Player of the Year was part of the first 75 games of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's record winning streak. Monday night she was a spectator at Gampel Pavilion for the first time since her senior year of high school and she watched the top-ranked Huskies make it 100 in a row with a 66-55 win over No. 6 South Carolina.

"It was very important to me to be here," Stewart said. "If I was in the country, I was coming to this game...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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GEICO SportsNite: 100 wins 00:01:12
The UConn women's basketball team defeated South Carolina, 66-55, for its 100th win in a row.

 

STORRS, Conn -- University of Connecticut women's basketball royalty -- from Sue Bird to Maya Moore to Bria Hartley to Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck -- was seated right behind its bench.

And on this extraordinary Monday night at sold-out Gampel Pavilion, Gabby Williams was the queen of the court.

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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma (L) looks on from the sideline against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma (L) looks on from the sideline against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. -- Whether it's the Game of the Century remains to be seen.

But it's a Game for a Century for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

The excitement has been building for a month since the Huskies broke their own NCAA record for longest winning streak. And while a circus atmosphere swirls around Gampel Pavilion, let sophomore forward Napheesa Collier put their approach to Monday night in the simplest of terms.

"We're not focusing on 100. We're focusing on South Carolina as a team," she said.

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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier dribbles up court against the Temple Owls during the first half at The Liacouras Center. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier dribbles up court against the Temple Owls during the first half at The Liacouras Center. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- Napheesa Collier won't have to look far to see some familiar faces on the South Carolina sideline Monday night when the top-ranked University of Connecticut women's basketball team hosts the No. 6 Gamecocks at sold-out Gampel Pavilion.

The Huskies' sophomore forward was a teammate of South Carolina junior forward A'ja Wilson on USA Basketball's gold-medal winning teams at the 2014 FIBA U-18 Americas Championship and the 2015 FIBA U-19 world championships. Team USA was coached at both events by South Carolina's Dawn Staley.

"A'ja is a real good player," Collier said. "She's tall and physical but she can also go on the perimeter and play. It's going to be a challenge."

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UConn runs streak to 99 00:02:15
The Huskies steamrolled over SMU, 83-41, to record their 99th consecutive win.

STORRS, Conn. -- Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams have been part of 100 wins with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

The Huskies' junior class reached the century mark Saturday thanks to the top-ranked Huskies' 83-41 American Athletic Conference victory over SMU before 10,012 at Gampel Pavilion.

"I didn't even think about that," Williams said. "Sometimes we get caught up with everything that's going on that we don't even think about how special the things that we're doing here are. I just feel blessed that we're in this position."

Now UConn and its junior class get to go for 100 in a row.

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 (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- Gabby Williams never backs down from a tough defensive assignment.

Fortunately, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior forward is always well prepared, thanks, in part, to Huskies' newcomer Azura Stevens.

"Z is one of those people who if you can guard her, you can guard anyone in the country pretty much," Williams said. "She's a huge threat inside with her height and the way she can finish. It's hard to close out on her because she has a foot on you. She makes things more competitive. You really have to step your game up when she's at practice."

Stevens is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but she is a force at practice, whether it's scrimmaging against All-American candidates Williams or Napheesa Collier or doing drills with associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant Marisa Moseley. During games, she does her best to support and encourage her teammates.

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 (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. - Katie Lou Samuelson played through flu-like symptoms against Maryland on Dec. 29 and scored 23 points in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's win at the Xfinity Center in College Park.

The Huskies' sophomore guard may take a back seat to similar symptoms Saturday when No. 1 UConn takes on SMU in an American Athletic Conference game at Gampel Pavilion (SNY, 2 p.m.). Samuelson did not practice Friday and coach Geno Auriemma said the decision to play her or not will be made close to game time.

"She's been kind of under the weather for at least the last week or so," Auriemma said. "It wasn't getting any better. So, I don't know about tomorrow. I don't know what her situation will be tomorrow. It's certainly not going to be like regular business. Either she's not going to play at all or she's going to play some minutes. That will be depending on how she feels at shootaround tomorrow.

"It's been a crazy winter as far as that stuff goes. There's a lot of stuff going around and it's been all over campus and everybody. She's been struggling with it for awhile. She's just run down."

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UConn blows by Cincinnati 00:02:23
The UConn women's basketball team notched its 98th straight win, crushing Cincinnati, 96-45.

Tamika Williams not only holds the single-season record for field-goal percentage with the University of Connecticut women's basketball program, the 2002 graduate and two-time national champion has the top four single-season marks.

But the former 2002 WNBA first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Lynx, now an assistant coach at Penn State, may seen her monopoly at the top come to an end courtesy of Napheesa Collier.

Collier hit all 10 of her shots from the floor Tuesday night and finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds, six assists to no turnovers, and five blocks before taking a seat for good with 11:11 to go. The top-ranked Huskies pushed their NCAA record overall winning streak to 98 and their NCAA record road winning streak to 36 with a 96-49 rout of Cincinnati in American Athletic Conference action before a crowd of 4,029 at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.

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