AUSTIN, Texas -- Katie Lou Samuelson had lost the battle, but at least she won the war.
And the University of Connecticut women's basketball team junior All-American had not lost her sense of humor Monday night after she finished with a game-high 19 points and a swollen left eye as the top-ranked Huskies held off No. 9 Texas 75-71 before a partisan announced crowd of 11,877 at the Frank Erwin Center.
"I just got a nice elbow," Samuelson said. "It got more swollen throughout the game. It's good right now. I think it looks pretty with all the colors."
Samuelson was trying to post up Texas' Ariel Atkins when she took an inadvertent elbow to the face from the Longhorns' Audrey Ann-Caron Goudreau four minutes into the game. Samuelson staggered out towards the 3-point line and took a couple steps back on defense after Texas rebounded a Crystal Dangerfield miss before play was stopped.
Referee Beverly Roberts had the best look at the play on the wing but didn't make a call. Referee Dee Kantner under the basket did not make a call either.
"They said they didn't see it," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who had some words with the officials before the start of the third quarter after he reviewed a replay at halftime.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, really physical," Samuelson said.
Samuelson did finish 7-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-6 from 3-point land. But with 15.8 seconds left and the Huskies holding a three-point lead, Samuelson -- an 83-percent career foul shooter on 218 attempts -- missed two free throws. It was only the second time in her career that Samuelson has missed both ends of a two-shot foul. She joked that she would blame it on the swollen eye.
The Huntington Beach, California, native also picked up a black left eye after being hit in the face during a game at East Carolina last season.
There is some irony that it was Caron-Goudreau who delivered the shot Monday night. Caron-Goudreau started her career at Vanderbilt and was a freshman when the Huskies faced the Commodores in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 29, 2014. Midway through the first half, Caron-Goudreau was accidently poked in the left eye by UConn's Breanna Stewart and fell to the floor screaming in pain. She would not return as the eye swelled shut, but did play the next day in Vanderbilt's consolation game loss to Arizona State.
Samuelson was out for just over three minutes Monday night and when she came back she played the rest of the way. She also came up with a key rebound of a Lashann Hicks miss with 24.7 seconds left.
"Teams are going to play as tough as they can and play as hard as they can against us," Samuelson said. "So we need to be ready to fight back for any punch that's thrown at us."
Samuelson, who missed four games in November with a sprained left foot, has now played in 75 percent of the Huskies' games, which allows her to be included among the American Athletic Conference leaders. She is tied for sixth in scoring (18.0), 11th in field-goal percentage (52.5), 10th in free-throw percentage (77.3), first in 3-point shooting percentage (49.3), 10th in assists (3.5) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2).
GOING TO McDONALD'S
UConn Class of 2018 signees Christyn Williams (5-foot-11 guard, Little Rock, Arkansas) and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (6-foot-4 post player, Winder, Georgia) were selected to take part in the 17th annual McDonald's All-America Girls Game to be held March 28 at Atlanta's Philips Arena.
Nelson-Ododa will play for the East team, while Williams will play for the West.
Seven players were selected from Texas, including former UConn recruit and University of Texas signee Charli Collier.
Baylor has the most recruits in the game with four, while Tennessee has three.
Current Huskies Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier, Crystal Dangerfield, Megan Walker, Mikayla Coombs and Samuelson were McDonald's All-Americans as high school seniors.
After Samuelson's missed free throws, Texas coach Karen Aston used her last time out to advance the ball with 15.8 seconds left and set up a play for a shot to tie.
Auriemma admitted UConn's plan was to foul and send the Longhorns to the line before they got a shot up. But as Texas inbounded, the Huskies' Azura Stevens was called for a foul.
"We were going to foul," Auriemma said. "We didn't know that the ref was reading my mind and called a bogus foul on Z. Yeah, we were going to foul but not with 15 seconds left. And I was really taking a chance because they were killing us on the boards and I thought, 'That's all we need. They make one, they miss, they offensive rebound and put it back up and we foul and we lose the game.' That's always the biggest fear. Fortunately it didn't come down to that."
Caron-Goudreau hit one of two free throws. Dangerfield then sank two foul shots with 8.3 seconds to go to ice the Huskies' eighth win without a loss against the Longhorns.
THANKS A MILLION, OR 20
Prior to the game Texas season ticket holders Cecil Reynolds and Julia Hickman were honored and received framed jerseys. The husband-and-wife duo, both mental health professionals who have taught at the collegiate level, have committed $20 million to Texas athletics. Their gift will establish the Cecil Reynolds and Julia Hickman Center for Student-Athlete Brain & Behavioral Health.
It took Auriemma 1,000 wins for him (and associate head coach Chris Dailey) to get a framed jersey.
"Do they need another jersey? I've got a couple," Auriemma said with a laugh. "You think we could give a guy a jersey if he gave us $20 million? Not only would I give him a jersey, I'd give him whatever he wanted."
UConn kept its spot atop the Associated Press poll, which was released prior to Monday night's game.
The Huskies (16-0) received all 32 first-place votes for the 11th straight week. Louisville, which routed then-No. 2 Notre Dame 100-67 at the KFC Yum! Center last Thursday, moved up one spot to an all-time high of No. 2. The Cardinals (19-0) received all but two second-place votes -- Deb Antonelli of CBS Sports and Krista Pirtle of the Waco (Texas) Tribune had Mississippi State second and Louisville third. Mississippi State, the nation's only other unbeaten at 19-0, also moved up one spot to third.
Rounding out the top 10 were Baylor, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Oregon, Ohio State, Texas, and South Carolina. The Longhorns (14-3) fell two spots after a loss to TCU last Wednesday. No one dropped out of the top 25. South Florida (14-4) was the only other American Athletic Conference team to be recognized as its 39 points put it at No. 3 in the also receiving votes category.
UConn is now 16-4 on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, and won for the first time in four games played on Jan. 15 ... Auriemma had praise for Texas point guard Brooke McCarty, who -- like UConn guards Dangerfield and Kia Nurse -- played 40 minutes. "Her and Ariel Atkins, they're two players that I would love to have on my team," Auriemma said. When told of the comment, McCarty, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year said, "It is a big compliment." McCarty had 14 points and five assists ... Collier finished with seven points and fouled out with 2:42 left. It's the first time since the two games at the 2016 Final Four she's scored in single figures in back-to-back games after scoring nine points at Houston Saturday. Collier was in single figures once (at LSU) in 37 games as a sophomore ... Former UConn All-American and two-time Nancy Lieberman Award winner Moriah Jefferson was at the Erwin Center ... Monday night's contest was the second of a two-game deal with Texas. UConn has Big 12 opponents Baylor and Oklahoma on the road in the 2018-19 season.