GEICO SportsNite: UConn Huskies 00:01:08
Check out all the highlights as the UConn Huskies took down the No. 4 ranked Maryland Terrapins to win their 87th consecutive game.

Box score

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Katie Lou Samuelson has proven her toughness to the players and coaches with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team many times before Thursday.

Remember when flu-like symptoms hit her a year ago at Colgate and she fainted coming off the court in the final minute? Remember when she played most of the first half with a broken left foot after hurting it in on the first possession of the NCAA Final Four semifinal game against Oregon State?

So when coach Geno Auriemma said his sophomore guard grew up a lot following her 23-point performance that paced the top-ranked Huskies to an 87-81 win over No. 4 Maryland before a sellout crowd of 17,950 at the Xfinity Center, it said a lot.

"Lou was amazing," Auriemma said, expanding on his original comment. "I've not seen her be what she was tonight when there was no alternative. There was no safety net. Last year when she showed that toughness, even if she didn't those other guys (the three senior All-Americans) were there for us. Tonight if she doesn't do it, we lose. That's why I believe she grew up a lot tonight."

Samuelson began feeling ill earlier Thursday and a number of times made her way over to the Huskies' bench for a drink or to wash out her mouth.

She had 12 points in the third quarter as UConn built a 19-point lead, then nailed a clutch trey and another jumper as Maryland made the Huskies sweat in the fourth.

It was an effort that had "All-American" written all over it.

"Everyone knows she is a pretty tough kid," UConn guard Kia Nurse said. "But she went out there and hit shots, did other things for us, and kept her mind off the sickness. It's hard to do. It's a lot harder to do than it looks. But she did it great."

Samuelson played 39 minutes, with her only break coming in the first quarter.

"I didn't think about not playing. I expected to play the whole time," Samuelson said. "It was such a great game and great atmosphere I wasn't going to miss it. When anyone asked, I told them I was good to go. Even if they knew I would say that I was fine and that's all they could go by.

"For myself, I know that I can be mentally tougher than anything physically that's going on. I showed myself that nothing within myself is going to stop me. If my head is right mentally, I can play like I have and play through anything."

The Huntington Beach, California, native did get plenty of help and the Huskies (12-0) needed all of it to push their winning streak to 87, three shy of matching their own NCAA record.

Nurse finished with 19 points and five assists while going the 40-minute distance. Gabby Williams dealt with foul trouble but still managed 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and a pair of steals. Napheesa Collier had 12 points before fouling out in the last minute. Saniya Chong returned to the starting lineup and had 10 points along with five assists to no turnovers.

"A lot of things could have gone wrong tonight and people could have lost their heads," Samuelson said. "People kept their composure even with the fouls, turnovers, whatever. Everyone stepped up. We were like, 'It's all right. We're still up. We got this. We're not going to freak out. We're going to get a stop and then we're going to get a score.' "

Freshman Destiny Slocum led Maryland (12-1) with 23 points. Senior Brionna Jones contributed a double-double (19 points, 13 rebounds) while another freshman, Kaila Charles, had 18 points and four steals.

UConn scored the first seven points -- a 3-pointer by Nurse, and two baskets by Williams. Maryland got even at 10, but five points by Chong, a Williams hoop, and a Chong free throw pushed the lead back to eight. It was 20-12 after one quarter.

Maryland started the second half on a 9-2 run and eventually tied it at 27 on a Charles basket but UConn responded with nine unanswered points in a 38-second span -- a four-point play by Nurse, a Williams layup, and a trey by Nurse -- for its biggest lead of the half with 2:50 to go in the half. But the Huskies would not score again in the period, Williams picked up her third foul, and a Nurse turnover in the final seconds led to a Blair Watson layup to make UConn's edge 36-31 at the break.

The decisive run came in the first 2:37 of the third quarter as the Huskies ripped off 14 straight points to go ahead by 19. Nurse started it with a three and baskets by Collier and Williams followed. Samuelson then had her own four-point play and another trey by Nurse finished it off.

The Terrapins, though, didn't go away.

"They are just so aggressive and so athletic and they just come in waves and keep coming at you and coming at you and coming at you," Auriemma said. "You also had the environment, and they were playing the No. 1 team in the country, so everything that happened -- except us getting up 19 -- I expected to happen. I expected it to be that kind of game. Even when we were up 19, all I kept thinking was, 'Man, I have a feeling it's going to be two.' "

Twice, Maryland got within five. It was 81-75 when Chong nailed a 3-pointer from his from in front of the Huskies' bench with 48.0 seconds left.

The timing was similar to when the senior guard hit a trey a year ago to stymie a Maryland comeback at the 2015 Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.

"When she went to shoot it that was exactly what ran through my mind," Auriemma said. "It's like she's supposed to make it. Saniya played well. She needs more playing time."

Maryland got no closer than five as the Terrapins fell to 0-6 against the Huskies. Thursday's game was the second of a three-game deal between the schools that will be completed when Maryland comes to UConn next season.

The sellout crowd was the third overall for the Terrapins at the Xfinity Center and first in nine seasons.

"The environment we had tonight was really special for Maryland and for women's basketball fans," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "It was incredible to be able to see. Obviously, we have to give credit where credit is due. On UConn's end, I thought they did a tremendous job."

UConn is 7-0 against ranked opponents on the season and has one non-league game left against South Carolina at Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 13.

The Huskies head to Orlando Friday for their American Athletic Conference opener Sunday against Central Florida (SNY, 1 p.m.).


Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma (Kevin Jairaj)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma (Kevin Jairaj)

 Forty minutes of hell? Geno Auriemma and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's coaching staff should have been so lucky.

The video tape of the Huskies' loss to Mississippi State in the 2017 NCAA Final Four semifinals at the American Airlines Center in Dallas included the overtime.

"Painful," Auriemma said Monday during the American Athletic Conference's media day at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott hotel...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson reacts after a play against the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson reacts after a play against the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

PHILADELPHIA -- The last time Katie Lou Samuelson played against an American Athletic Conference opponent, she had a performance for the ages. The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's guard scored 40 points on a NCAA-record 10-for-10 effort from 3-point land in the Huskies' win over South Florida in the AAC tournament final at Mohegan Sun Arena.

At least one coach in the league was not impressed.

After being named a unanimous first-team all-league pick and the AAC's Co-Player of the Year, the AAC tournament's Most Outstanding Player and a consensus first-team All-American last March, Samuelson was named to the 2017-18 preseason first team by league coaches at media day at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott Monday. But unlike teammates and fellow All-Americans Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier, the Huntington Beach, California, native was not a unanimous choice.

"I don't know why. I don't know," Collier, who shared Co-Player of the Year honors with Samuelson last season and was named the preseason Player of the Year on Monday, said with a shake of the head. "I was really surprised by that, too."

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

PHILADELPHIA -- Napheesa Collier was her stoic self whenever a postseason honor -- and there were many -- came her way last March.

So being named the American Athletic Conference preseason Player of the Year Monday by league coaches at AAC media day won't change anything for the junior forward.

"Obviously it's a great honor that people think that of me," Collier said. "But the season hasn't even started yet so I don't know how much of an affect it will have with anything for me. I'm going to work as hard as I always have."

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies wide receiver Hergy Mayala (1) celebrates with wide receiver Keyion Dixon (23) after Mayala scored a touchdown during the second quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies wide receiver Hergy Mayala (1) celebrates with wide receiver Keyion Dixon (23) after Mayala scored a touchdown during the second quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Bryant Shirreffs threw for three touchdowns, Tyler Cole had a pick-six, and Connecticut held off Temple 28-24 on Saturday to end an eight-game skid in conference play.

The Huskies defense forced two turnovers and stopped Temple on downs three times, including the Owls' final drive, which ended in an incomplete Hail Mary pass with seconds left.

Tags: Temple University
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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

Katie Lou Samuelson and her University of Connecticut women's basketball teammates have had just over six months to think about their loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA Final Four semifinals in Dallas. If the junior All-American had her way, she would have been working and playing days later. She wasn't. The saying is, "Wait till next year," after all.

"One of the biggest things after the way the season ended was that we needed to get back into it and we were able to do that earlier than usual because of the trip to Italy," Samuelson said. "We're ready to go. This team is ahead of where the others were since I've been here because we've had more time together and we know what we need to get done to get better."

The Huskies open practice officially Thursday with a workout at the Werth Family Champions Center, exactly one month before they begin the regular season against Stanford in the Countdown to Columbus at Nationwide Arena...

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Molly Bent, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Less than a month after the University of Connecticut women's basketball team lost recruit Charli Collier to Texas, the Huskies will try to rebound by having two of the top seniors in the country -- including a top post player -- make official visits this coming weekend.

Christyn Williams -- a 5-foot-11 guard from Little Rock, Arkansas -- will make UConn her fifth and final official visit. Rated the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 by ESPNHoopgurlz, she is also considering South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and UCLA.

She'll be joined in Storrs by Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a 6-foot-4 center from Winder, Georgia. Rated the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 by the Blue Star Index and No. 5 by ESPNHoopgurlz, she is also considering Duke, Florida State, Georgia, Stanford, and South Carolina. She was in Tallahassee for her official visit with the Seminoles this past weekend.

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Riley Ferguson threw for 431 yards and seven touchdowns, four of them to his favorite target Anthony Miller, as Memphis routed UConn 70-31 on Friday night.

Ferguson, who played just three quarters, completed 34 of 48 passes and the Tigers put up 711 yards of total offense.

The seven touchdown by Ferguson tied Paxton Lynch's school and conference record. Ferguson was 26 of 37 for 325 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone.

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Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore (23) celebrates after the game against the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals at Williams Arena. (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)
Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore (23) celebrates after the game against the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals at Williams Arena. (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

It's been said and written many times the last several years that winning has a knack of following Maya Moore around.

Of course, there's a reason. The former University of Connecticut star is a winner and makes winning plays, and she added to her resume Wednesdaynight.

Moore's 15-footer with 26.5 seconds stopped a Los Angeles rally cold and started a game-closing 6-0 run as the Minnesota Lynx topped the Sparks 85-76 in the deciding Game 5 of the WNBA Finals before 14,632 fans at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and guard/forward Napheesa Collier on the sideline as they take on the Albany Great Danes in the first half during the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and guard/forward Napheesa Collier on the sideline as they take on the Albany Great Danes in the first half during the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Katie Lou Samuelson was the youngest player at this weekend's United States senior national team training camp, which wrapped up Monday in Santa Barbara, California. 

The University of Connecticut junior was 5 when the oldest player in camp, former Huskies' point guard Sue Bird, won her first gold medal with the senior team at the 2002 FIBA world championships.

Taking a pass from a four-time Olympic gold medalist and the WNBA's all-time assist leader can leave a collegian -- even an All-American like Samuelson -- a bit awestruck.

"It's definitely one of the things we knew coming here," Samuelson said. "At the same time we're all competitors and we're all going to go out there and do our best no matter who we're playing against. But there's going to be those moments where we talk to the older guys and learn about them and from them. This is an opportunity not many of us have and I'm so fortunate to get it."

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier reacts with guard Gabby Williams after a play against the UCF Knights in the second half of the semifinals during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Napheesa Collier reacts with guard Gabby Williams after a play against the UCF Knights in the second half of the semifinals during the women's AAC Conference Tournament at Mohegun Sun Arena. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team will play homecoming games for seniors Gabby Williams (at Nevada) and Kia Nurse (in Toronto vs. Duquesne) and junior Katie Lou Samuelson (at UCLA) this coming season.

Junior Napheesa Collier will be taking notes.

"The thing that I've already picked up on is how they have been asking everyone for tickets for those games," Collier said. "So I'm going to be sure to get a head start on that for next year."

The St. Charles, Missouri, native will have a homecoming of her own next year as UConn has signed a contract to play at Saint Louis University during the 2018-19 season. The deal is for just one game.

Tags: Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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UConn falls to SMU, 49-28 00:00:35
Recapping all the action from UConn's 49-28 loss to SMU in Dallas.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) East Carolina needed a missed field goal from UConn as time expired to prevent overtime, but the Pirates snapped a seven-game losing streak on Sunday with a 41-38 win over the Huskies.

Pirates quarterback Thomas Sirk, coming off a concussion that caused him to miss last week's loss to Virginia Tech, completed 30 of 39 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns, all to Davon Grayson.

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GEICO SportsNite: Play of Day 00:00:23
GEICO's Play of the Day involves UConn's Arkeel Newsome, who turns a screen pass into a 79-yard touchdown run while breaking a few tackles.

 

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Charli Collier (Courtesy of USA Basketball)
Charli Collier (Courtesy of USA Basketball)

Charli Collier made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Texas in eighth grade. Four years later, the 6-foot-4 forward from Baytown, Texas, has done so again. This time, though, it's at the expense of the University of Connecticut.

Collier announced her decision on Twitter Friday that has her backing out of the verbal commitment she made to the Huskies 10 months ago. Instead, she will sign a letter of intent with the Longhorns in November. She is ranked the No. 2 player in the Class of 2018 by ESPNHoopGurlz.

"I feel like this is the best decision for me personally and everything is for a reason," Collier tweeted. "Being closer to home and representing the state of Texas that has been so good to me. I have a good relationship with the coaching staff, they're like family to me. And my family and friends get to see me play and grow into a successful individual at such a prestigious university. This recruiting process has taught me so much about listening to my heart and at the end of the day I have to do what is best for me."

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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GEICO SportsNite: UConn loses 00:00:41
The UConn Huskies lost their first game of the season on the road at Virginia by the score of 38-18.

Kurt Benkert passed for a school-record breaking 455 yards and Virginia avenged a heartbreak loss last season with a 38-18 victory over Connecticut on Saturday.

Virginia came in a rare double-digit favorite and the Cavaliers (2-1) jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Benkert, a fifth-year senior, broke his own passing record of 421 yards set last season against Central Michigan with a 73-yard touchdown pass to Andre Levrone in the middle of the fourth quarter. Levrone finished with a career-high 127 yards on four catches.

The Huskies offense struggled to keep pace with the constant pressure of the Virginia front early. UConn (1-1) went 1 of 4 on red zone possessions - including two turnovers and a turnover-on-downs.

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Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall felt better about his team's performance in a loss to Indiana after watching film of the game, and he's anticipating the improvement will only become more obvious going forward.

The Cavaliers (1-1) finish a three-game homestand to start the season Saturday against Connecticut (1-0).

Mendenhall said he saw more consistency from the offense and defense in the 34-17 loss . And although generally steady quarterback Kurt Benkert had an uneven outing, he's generally more accurate when throwing downfield than he was against the Hoosiers.

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's road to the 2018 NCAA Final Four will see it travel to 12 states and Canada as the school released its 29-game regular season schedule for the 2017-18 campaign on Wednesday.

The Huskies will play 12 home games -- six each at their on-campus home Gampel Pavilion and at the XL Center in Hartford, 13 on the road, and four at neutral sites.

All 29 games will be televised, including 16 on SNY, which is entering its sixth season broadcasting UConn women's games...

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Former WNBA former player Rebecca Lobo (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)
Former WNBA former player Rebecca Lobo (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Rebecca Lobo was the University of Connecticut's first national Player of the Year and also its first academic All-American. So she's quite capable of writing the speech that she'll give Friday night at her Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.

But if she needed a helping hand, her husband -- author and former Sports Illustrated columnist Steve Rushin -- would certainly be there for her.

"When I went into the Women's Hall of Fame in 2010, he didn't help me," Lobo said. "I wrote that one on the hotel stationery the night before. But it's only 5-7 minutes, so it's pretty much enough time to just thank the people you need to thank and get off the stage."

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Aug 31, 2017; East Hartford, CT, USA; The Connecticut Huskies warm up before the start of the game against the Holy Cross Crusaders at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Aug 31, 2017; East Hartford, CT, USA; The Connecticut Huskies warm up before the start of the game against the Holy Cross Crusaders at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

UConn football's matchup against the University of South Florida on Saturday has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, the two schools announced.

"I know both our team and USF were excited about a chance to play this weekend," UConn head coach Randy Edsall said. "We certainly are disappointed, but clearly understand that this is something totally out of everyone's control. I hope that Coach Strong, his team and the entire community impacted by this storm remain safe and know that we are thinking about them as they deal with this."

The game was scheduled to take place at Rentschler Field in Connecticut. The University of South Florida System shut down its campuses from Thursday until at least the end of the weekend.

UConn defeated Holy Cross in their season opener, 27-20. They will return to action on Sept. 16 when they face Virginia.

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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they take on the DePaul Blue Demons in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they take on the DePaul Blue Demons in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

There are very few things that Geno Auriemma has not done in basketball since becoming the women's coach at the University of Connecticut in 1985.

One thing will be taken off that list Friday night.

Auriemma will serve as a presenter for the first time when the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame holds its Class of 2017 enshrinement ceremony at Springfield (Massachusetts) Symphony Hall. And he'll be doing it twice. He'll be the sole presenter for Rebecca Lobo, who played for him at UConn (1991-95), and join former Boston Celtics star John Havlicek and former UCLA standout Ann Meyers-Drysdale as presenters for former NCAA vice president Tom Jernstedt.

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Former WNBA former player Rebecca Lobo (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)
Former WNBA former player Rebecca Lobo (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

Words and actions tell Rebecca Lobo's basketball story better than any numbers ever could.

In 121 games over six WNBA seasons, the 1995 consensus national Player of the Year at the University of Connecticut scored 808 points, grabbed 500 rebounds, dished out 115 assists and blocked 104 shots. Among her fellow UConn graduates, Diana Taurasi (twice) and Maya Moore have scored more points in a season; Tina Charles was within 102 rebounds after her rookie year; Sue Bird has recorded more assists in all 16 of her seasons; Breanna Stewart, in two years, leads in blocks.

But 22 years after her final game in Storrs and 14 years after appearing for the last time in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, Lobo continues to make a mark on the game.

For her efforts, Lobo will be inducted as a contributor into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night in a ceremony at Springfield Symphony Hall, about a 15-minute drive from her native Southwick, Massachusetts.

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 (Geoff Burke)
(Geoff Burke)

In the almost 20 years that Sue Bird has been on basketball's national stage, her signature -- and best remembered -- play is a jump shot. Her 15-footer at the buzzer on March 6, 2001, at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs gave the University of Connecticut a two-point win over Notre Dame and the Big East tournament championship.

But history will record that she was best at setting up her teammates for baskets.

The 36-year-old guard had a season high 13 assists Friday night to become the WNBA's all-time leader in that category in the visiting Seattle Storm's 110-106 overtime loss to the Washington Mystics 110-106 at Capital One Arena...

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UConn beats Holy Cross, 27-20 00:02:45
The Huskies started slow, but managed to come back to snag their first win of the 2017 season with a 27-20 victory over Holy Cross.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Fifth-year senior Bryant Shirreffs came off the bench to lead UConn on three second-half scoring drives and the Huskies came from behind to beat Holy Cross 27-20 on Thursday night in Randy Edsall's return as head coach. 

Sophomore running back Nate Hopkins ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns in his UConn debut and receiver Hergy Mayala caught nine balls for 106 yards and a score.

Peter Pujals threw for 358 yards and a touchdown for Holy Cross, from the Football Championship Subdivision, which led 20-7 late in the third quarter.

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Randy Edsall on 2017-2018 season 00:03:02
UConn football head coach Randy Edsall talks about the start of the 2017 season and how the team needs to start fast and finish strong.

UConn football will kick off their season when they face Holy Cross tonight at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on SNY at 7:30 p.m.

The Huskies went 3-9 last season, while Holy Cross went 4-7. 

The two teams have not faced one another since 1985.

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It could be a 1-2 combination heard around the women's college basketball world.

Christyn Williams -- a 5-foot-11 guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, and the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 according to ESPNHoopgurlz -- has scheduled an official visit to the University of Connecticut for Oct. 12-15, she confirmed in an e-mail on Monday. It will be the final visit of the five she has planned for the fall.

She will be joined in Storrs that weekend by Charli Collier, the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2018 according to ESPNHoopgurlz. Collier -- a 6-foot-4 forward from Baytown, Texas -- made a verbal commitment to UConn last November.

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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson warms up before the start of the game against the Oregon Ducks in the finals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson warms up before the start of the game against the Oregon Ducks in the finals of the Bridgeport Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Webster Bank Arena. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

The next time the University of Connecticut women's basketball team takes the floor will be for preseason workouts at the Werth Champions Center in Storrs.

The Huskies completed the basketball-playing portion of their tour of Italy Sunday by dropping a 79-59 decision to Slovenian and Adriatic League champion Celje in Capodistria. UConn was 3-1 on its trip with two wins over the Netherlands national team and one over an Italian All-Star squad.

All-American Katie Lou Samuelson led the Huskies Sunday with 17 points. Freshman Megan Walker added a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), while All-American Gabby Williams chipped in 12 points and five assists. Point guard Crystal Dangerfield had six assists and three steals.

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Mar 31, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) react after scoring against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the third quarter in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports (Matthew Emmons)
Mar 31, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) react after scoring against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the third quarter in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports (Matthew Emmons)

A different opponent, but the same result for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team on its tour of Italy.

Junior All-American Katie Lou Samuelson stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and three steals as the Huskies routed the Italian All-Stars 103-45 in an exhibition game in Vicenza.

UConn is 3-0 on its trip, which started with a two-game sweep of the Netherlands national team in Rome. The Huskies conclude the basketball playing portion of the journey Sunday against Celje of Slovenia in Trieste.

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 (David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)
(David Butler II/USA Today Sports Images)

Nothing like traveling some 7,000 miles to break out of a shooting slump.

Kia Nurse won a gold medal at the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 Sunday with the Canadian national team but in six tournament games shot just 28.1 percent from the floor including 21.9 percent from 3-point land. But after traveling Monday from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Rome to join her University of Connecticut teammates on their tour of Italy, the senior guard found her shot.

Nurse scored 18 points -- making 5-of-7 shots including a trio from 3-point land along with all five of her free throws -- Tuesday as the Huskies rolled past the Netherlands national team 88-66 in Game 2 of four exhibition games on their tour.

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SNY's Huskies All-Access team is on site in Italy with the UConn Women's basketball team as they start their preparation for the upcoming season.

Here are some behind the scene moments:

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Connecticut Huskies guard Saniya Chong (12) drives the ball against Memphis Tigers guard Taylor Barnes (15) in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Memphis 91-48. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Saniya Chong (12) drives the ball against Memphis Tigers guard Taylor Barnes (15) in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Memphis 91-48. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- She played her final college game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Her new home court is the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, about a half-hour drive if the traffic cooperates.

But to Saniya Chong, it's an entirely different world.

The former University of Connecticut guard beat the odds as a third-round draft pick and proved many people wrong this spring by making the WNBA's Dallas Wings' roster. She has played in 28 of the Wings' 29 games -- the only miss was the Aug. 6 contest against the Los Angeles Sparks as she was in concussion protocol -- and is averaging 3.1 points, 1.1 assists and one rebound in 12.2 minutes off the bench. In her return to Connecticut Saturday, she had a steal in four minutes of a 96-88 loss to the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Tags: Saniya Chong, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma, guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and center Natalie Butler clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma, guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and center Natalie Butler clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. (Raymond Carlin III/USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- There were no banners inside Gampel Pavilion the last time the University of Connecticut women's basketball team welcomed six newcomers. 

In 1988, the Huskies had not won a league or national championship. Of course, then there was no Gampel Pavilion either as it would be their last full season playing in the Storrs Field House. But that fall six freshmen -- Debbie Baer, Wendy Davis, Meghan Pattyson, Pam Rothfuss, Shannon Saunders and Stacey Wetzel -- joined the Huskies, and five months later they were Big East champs for the first time and headed to their first NCAA tournament.

A lot has happened and a lot has changed in 29 years. This season, coach Geno Auriemma returns four starters, including All-Americans Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, from a 36-1 squad that advanced to the program's record 10th straight Final Four. The Huskies' only loss came in their last outing as their 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as NCAA champ ended.

Helping them start anew are four freshmen and two other players who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. And they get a head start. After a week of workouts on campus here, they will fly out of New York on Saturday to Rome to start an 11-day tour of Italy that will include playing four exhibition games.

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 (AP)
(AP)

Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams have been part of two losses in three seasons with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

The seniors will get the chance to avenge at least one of them.

UConn will play Stanford in its season opener on Nov. 12 in the Countdown to Columbus event to be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Huskies were originally scheduled to take on Ohio State in the one-day showcase at the site of the 2018 NCAA Final Four. But the Buckeyes will now face Louisville in the second game of the doubleheader. Times and television information are still to be determined.

The Huskies lead the overall series with the Cardinal 10-7, including 4-2 in NCAA tournament play. But in the last meeting at Maples Pavilion on Nov. 17, 2014, Stanford received a late 3-pointer from Amber Orrange to force overtime and pulled out an 88-86 victory to snap UConn's 47-game winning streak. The Huskies followed the defeat in Palo Alto by winning their next 111 games. That NCAA record run was stopped by Mississippi State in the Final Four semifinals last March 31 in Dallas.

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

STORRS, Conn. -- Uniform No. 3 was just another number for the first 25 years of the University of Connecticut women's basketball program.

Only two players wore it -- Shea Matlock and Tammy Arnold. Matlock played one year here and transferred to Georgia Tech after the 1994 season. Arnold was at UConn for two years before transferring to Oregon State near her home of Oregon City after the 1997 season.

Then coach Geno Auriemma convinced Diana Taurasi to take No. 3 and the rest is history. Taurasi (2000-04) would become one of the greats of the game, a three-time national champion and All-American and two-time national Player of the Year. Tiffany Hayes (2008-12) would be next and she'd win two titles and finish among the the top 10 scorers. Morgan Tuck (2012-16) followed and was a four-time national champion and All-American.

So why would freshman Megan Walker, already under the microscope coming in as the 2017 national high school Player of the Year and the top recruit in her class, want to take on that responsibility?

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 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

STORRS, Conn. -- Diana Taurasi is considered by many to be the best women's basketball player in the world, and is quick to credit a number of her coaches for helping her along the way.

But when it comes to helping her be a better person, the former University of Connecticut star and four-time United States Olympic gold medalist is quick to give credit to Huskies' associate head coach Chris Dailey.

"She made me a respectable human being," Taurasi said last Friday. "When you're around CD, there's a certain way to live life. I didn't understand it at the time I was in school. But now that I look back on it, I learned as much about life as I did about basketball with her. Every time I see her, I thank her for that."

The WNBA's Connecticut Sun will show their appreciation Tuesday night when Dailey is given the Margo Dydek Award in a ceremony at halftime of the Sun's game with Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and the Seattle Storm at Mohegan Sun Arena. The award, named after the former Sun center, is given to an outstanding woman who has distinguished herself while positively impacting the local community...

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Batouly Camara (Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports)
Batouly Camara (Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS, Conn. -- Batouly Camara can't wait for November and the beginning of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's season.

In a way, the redshirt sophomore forward doesn't have to. The Huskies will head to Italy on Saturday for an 11-day tour that will take them to Rome, Florence, Trieste and Venice and include four exhibition games.

"It's like we're getting a head start," Camara said after Monday's workout at the Werth Champions Center. "Going there, being able to bond as a team and also play some games, I'm super excited for this trip.

"I want to be able to pick things up quickly and to be efficient. But at this point of the season I want to show to my coaches and teammates that they can trust me. Being reliable is something I've tried to show the team from the start."

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Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA guard Diana Taurasi (12) shoots the ball against Spain in the women's basketball gold medal match during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports (Jeffrey Swinger)
Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA guard Diana Taurasi (12) shoots the ball against Spain in the women's basketball gold medal match during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports (Jeffrey Swinger)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Diana Taurasi turned 35 years old on June 11. But there also days when she's 25 all over again.

 

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Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

University of Connecticut sophomore Crystal Dangerfield has seen enough opponents celebrate in the last six months to last her a lifetime.

On March 31, it was Mississippi State that charged the court after its upset in the NCAA Final Four semifinals ended the Huskies' 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion.

Then Sunday, Dangerfield and her United States teammates watched Russia grab the gold at the FIBA U-19 World Cup. The 6-foot-4 duo of Raisa Musina and Maria Vadeeva combined for 59 points and 29 rebounds as Russia ended Team USA's U-19 run with an 86-82 victory in the championship game in Udine, Italy.

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Mar 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonalds High School All-American East guard Megan Walker (3) shoots the ball against McDonalds High School All-American West forward Sidney Cooks (10) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)
Mar 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; McDonalds High School All-American East guard Megan Walker (3) shoots the ball against McDonalds High School All-American West forward Sidney Cooks (10) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)

To say Megan Walker has struggled with her 3-point shot at the FIBA U-19 World Cup would be an understatement. The University of Connecticut freshman wing was 1-for-14 from behind the arc in the United States' first five games in the event.

But with Team USA surging late in the second quarter half of its semifinal game with Japan Saturday, Walker delivered a dagger from the corner.

Her trey at the halftime buzzer gave the Americans a 14-point lead and was part of a 21-1 run that carried into the third quarter. Walker finished with 11 points as Team USA advanced to the gold-medal game with a 73-66 win over Japan in Udine, Italy.

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Kia Nurse is back to her usual busy self.

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's senior guard was named Friday to the Canadian national team that will participate in the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug. 6-13. The top three finishers in the event receive bids to the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

After her time in Buenos Aires, Nurse will join her UConn teammates in Italy for the remainder of their tour there.

Tags: Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
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Nov 30, 2015; Chattanooga, TN, USA; Connecticut Huskies logo prior to the game between the Chattanooga Lady Mocs and the Connecticut Huskies at McKenzie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)
Nov 30, 2015; Chattanooga, TN, USA; Connecticut Huskies logo prior to the game between the Chattanooga Lady Mocs and the Connecticut Huskies at McKenzie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports (Jim Brown)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Stefanie Dolson has always been a unique individual but has never failed to be a team player.

After graduating from the University of Connecticut and winning her second national championship with the women's basketball team in 2014, the 6-foot-5 center from Port Jervis, New York joined the WNBA's Washington Mystics as the team's first-round draft pick. Part of her change to professional life was to dye her hair purple.

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 (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Moriah Jefferson has always been filled with positive energy.

Over nine seasons -- five years scholastically with THESA (Texas Homeschool Educators Sports Association) and four years in college with the University of Connecticut -- her teams never lost the final game of their postseason.

But in her second year with the WNBA's San Antonio Stars, she is being tested -- on and off the court -- like never before. The Stars Thursday night's home game with the Indiana Fever at 2-18, five games clear for the worst record in the league and seven games behind the final playoff spot with 14 games to play.

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Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA forward/center Breanna Stewart (9) shoots the ball against Spain power forward Astou Ndour Gueye (45) in the women's basketball gold medal match during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports (Jeffrey Swinger)
Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; USA forward/center Breanna Stewart (9) shoots the ball against Spain power forward Astou Ndour Gueye (45) in the women's basketball gold medal match during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports (Jeffrey Swinger)

If University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma takes time out to watch the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday, he'll see his own version of a magnificent seven -- of his own players.

Former Huskies Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky were named as reserves for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference respectively for the All-Star Game to be played at KeyArena in Seattle, giving UConn a record seven graduates in the contest. Last week, five ex-Huskies -- Seattle guard Sue Bird, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, and Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore for the West, and forward Tina Charles of the New York Liberty and guard Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream for the East -- were named as starters.

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GEICO SportsNite: Vital 00:04:35
Taylor Rooks talks to UConn shooting guard Christian Vital about how playing chess has helped his style of play on the basketball court.

Connecticut Huskies players leave the court after losing to the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs defeated the Connecticut Huskies in overtime 66-64. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies players leave the court after losing to the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs defeated the Connecticut Huskies in overtime 66-64. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team has had more than its share of top moments at the ESPYs over the past 25 years.

The Huskies, though, were on the other end during the annual awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Mississippi State's 66-64 overtime win at the NCAA Final Four semifinals on March 31 that ended UConn's 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion won the ESPY as "Best Upset" of the past 12 months. The Bulldogs were considered about a 21-point underdog.

Of course, the ESPYs were far from the first time -- or the last time -- UConn will be reminded of that night at the American Airlines Center when guard Morgan William hit a shot at the buzzer to send Mississippi State to the title game against South Carolina.

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 (Jeffrey Swinger)
(Jeffrey Swinger)

In their first game as a starting backcourt, they combined for a pedestrian 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's 36-point victory over Villanova at Gampel Pavilion.

Who knew on Feb. 4, 2001, that Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi would go on to be the best their sport has seen? Their then-college coach and later their coach for seven years with the United States national team had an idea.

"I have always said from back in 2002 that they'd be the best backcourt in the history of women's basketball -- college basketball, pro basketball, any kind of basketball -- and I said time will prove that," Geno Auriemma said last month. "It certainly has. You'll never find something like that ever again. It's too improbable for it to happen again. Those two are pretty special. There's nothing to compare them to. There really isn't."

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Connecticut Huskies guard Molly Bent defends against Tulsa Golden Hurricane guard Tatyana Perez during the fourth quarter at Donald Reynolds Center. (Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Molly Bent defends against Tulsa Golden Hurricane guard Tatyana Perez during the fourth quarter at Donald Reynolds Center. (Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports)

On the second offensive possession of her career with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, Molly Bent reached the center-court line and threw a perfect lead pass to a sprinting Napheesa Collier for a layup.

A national TV audience and a crowd of 4,753 inside the Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida, saw it. One soul missed it -- the person doing the game statistics at Florida State, who gave the assist to Saniya Chong.

In a way, it sums up Bent's freshman season. As UConn coach Geno Auriemma put it, never had he seen a player work so hard and get so little reward out of it.

As the 5-foot-9 guard prepares for second year with the Huskies, she has a foundation for success. But she knows she must build confidence in herself and trust with her coaches and teammates to get meaningful minutes on what could be UConn's deepest roster in years.

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Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) reacts in the second quarter against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) reacts in the second quarter against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Sophomore point guard Crystal Dangerfield spent a part of June talking to her University of Connecticut women's basketball freshman teammates about her experiences from her first collegiate season.

"I tell them my stories from last year and I have a lot of them," Dangerfield said. "I think ... No, I know, it will be different for each of them and it is going to be hard. But I want them to know I'll be there to listen and to talk to them."

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Carl Adamec
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Kevin Ollie promoting basketball 00:03:07
UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie discusses his efforts to promote basketball in Connecticut, regardless of a player's skill level

 (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports Images)
(Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports Images)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- During her incredible basketball career at the University of Connecticut, Breanna Stewart spoke often about her goal of winning four national championships. At least that's what the three-time national Player of the Year was asked about the most.

Little did anyone know she had so much more to add. Fifteen months after stepping off the court for the final time as a Husky at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and winning that historic fourth consecutive NCAA title, she's becoming known as much for her activism as for her skills on the floor.

"I wasn't asked about it at UConn. I wasn't asked about certain things that were happening in the world," Stewart said Thursday. "So it's you (media) guys' fault. I think I would have said the same things. CD (UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey) and I would have talked about it prior if it was something I wanted to do and was constantly asked about it.

"You don't think about it so much at UConn. There's so much going on. CD has you doing so many things. My first season at Seattle, there were things that needed to be talked about. When I was at the ESPYs last year, it seemed like there was a lot happening in our world and instead of having the generic 'Thank you very, thank you to my family, blah, blah, blah,' I wanted to make it about something really important, something that needed to be said and heard."

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Mikayla Coombs (USA Basketball)
Mikayla Coombs (USA Basketball)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Napheesa Collier has always let her actions speak for her, whether it was helping the University of Connecticut women's basketball team win a national championship in 2016 or earning consensus first-team All-America honors a season ago.

So when the junior forward was told Monday that the Huskies' freshman class has given itself the nickname of "Fantastic Four" months before its first official college practice, Collier chuckled, rolled her eyes a bit, and shook her head with a smile before staying in character with a brief comment.

"Oh my goodness. It's great that they have a name for themselves, I guess," Collier said.

For sure, UConn's Class of 2021 -- Mikayla Coombs, Lexi Gordon, Andra Espinoza-Hunter, and Megan Walker -- will get the opportunity to live up to their hype. Even with three All-Americans among their four returning starters and with transfers Azura Stevens and Batouly Camara now eligible, the Huskies will likely need their freshmen to contribute if they are to regain the national championship.

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