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.

Nurse made Syracuse pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and pay. She scored 26 of her 29 points in the decisive first half and matched the NCAA tournament record with nine 3-pointers as top-seeded UConn advanced to its 24th consecutive Sweet 16 by routing the No. 8 Orange 94-64 in a Bridgeport Regional second-round game before a crowd of 8,274 at Gampel Pavilion.

"Challenging her is not a good idea," UConn guard Katie Lou Samuelson said. "Sometimes that happened in the beginning of the year where she would be wide open and she nailed threes and we'd be like, 'Why are you always open?' She stepped up and we need her to step up the way that she did. After hitting her first couple, she did make a couple that were contested and all night she just made great basketball plays."

UConn (34-0), winners of 109 straight games, will play No. 4 UCLA in a regional semifinal game Saturday at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. The Bruins eliminated fifth-seeded Texas A&M at Pauley Pavilion on Monday night. 

Nurse also had six assists but it was her shooting touch that brought screams from her teammates and the crowd to its feet. She finished 10-for-13 from the floor, adding a layup to her 9-for-12 effort from 3-point land.

"That's my teammate, my best friend, and it's so exciting," UConn forward Gabby Williams said. "It was like, 'Oh my God, another one?' It was one of those games that's fun to watch, fun to be a part of. When Kia's excited, we're getting excited and we're all making plays.

"We weren't sure what was going on but we were surprised at how open she was. But we knew the longer we moved the ball along, the longer that we could make them play defense, the more open she was going to be. You could see it in her eyes, she just had that confidence today."

Nurse's first trey with two minutes gone erased Syracuse's lone lead (3-2) of the game.

"If you look at the strengths we have this year, I still think I'm one of the players people leave open," Nurse said. "Maybe not now. I remember Moriah Jefferson was stuck with that one of her years, and she just said, 'Get in the gym and see it go in the net.' That was the easiest way to do it. So I make a lot of shots in the gym and see the ball go in the net."

Nurse had to stay out of the gym for two weeks as she recovered from a stress reaction in her right ankle that cost her the final four games of the regular season. Even when she returned at the American Athletic Conference tournament it was struggle.

In UConn's NCAA tournament wins over Albany and Syracuse, she is a combined 15-for-19 from behind the arc and she leads the AAC in 3-point percentage at 45.5.

"We know that anyone that challenges her, Kia is going to come back at them 100 times stronger," UConn forward Napheesa Collier said. "Kia is someone who will never back down from a challenge.

"It was like a flashback to USF when Katie Lou was hitting all her threes. Kia was great."

Samuelson, who set a NCAA record with her 10-for-10 effort against South Florida in the AAC final on March 6, was impressed. Nurse tied the NCAA tournament mark of nine 3-pointers first set by Purdue's Courtney Moses against South Dakota State in 2012.

"It was awesome and we just wanted her to keep going," Samuelson said. "It shows that we have a lot of different threats but when someone is hot like she was, that's where we're going with the ball. We were good at finding Kia."

The Huskies were good at finding each other.

They placed four in double figures. Williams added 23 points, six rebounds and five assists while Samuelson had 23 points and Collier 17.

UConn assisted on 30 of its 31 baskets in the first 30 minutes, including a stretch of 26 in a row. On the final play of the third quarter, Nurse passed up a wide open 3 to find Collier for a layup.

"On any given day you're going to find yourself in positions where you're going to take an open shot or you find a teammate for a better shot," Nurse said. "That's just understanding that if you're open shoot it, if not pass it. They came at me really hard on that one and Pheesa was screaming for it so I got it to her."

It's the third consecutive game UConn has had at least 30 assists.

"We need to play our best as a team," Samuelson said. "We might not have the 1-on-1 opportunities the whole game. But when we play well as a team, it makes it tough for our opponents to figure out how to stop it."

Nurse had 11 points in the first quarter as the Huskies used a 19-4 run to lead 28-11. The Hamilton, Ontario, native added five treys in the second quarter as UConn made it 57-29 at the break.

With 2:08 gone in the third quarter, Nurse made her final three on a shot from the left side that was so far off that it went in off the backboard. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

Sometimes when you shoot the ball well people think you played well," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Kia shot the ball better than well, she shot it amazingly well. She played really well and that was more important."

UConn led 86-51 after three quarters as it beat Syracuse for the 25th straight time and improved to 13-4 in rematches from the previous season's national championship game.

Alexis Peterson had 25 points for the Orange (22-11) while Brittney Sykes added 15.

"We just have to get better in every aspect of the game to beat a time like that," Hillsman said.

Monday night's contest was the final home game for seniors Saniya Chong and Tierney Lawlor. They became the second class in UConn history to go four years without losing a home game with the first being the Class of 2011 of Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon. The seniors are also 150-1 since their arrival here, tying the Moore/Dixon class for second in wins for a class. UConn's Class of 2016 -- Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck -- won 151 games.


The Oakland Raiders took UConn defensive back Obi Melifonwu in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday.

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Connecticut Huskies forward Morgan Tuck (3) speaks to the media after defeating the Syracuse Orange 82-51 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Brian Spurlock)
Connecticut Huskies forward Morgan Tuck (3) speaks to the media after defeating the Syracuse Orange 82-51 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Brian Spurlock)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Morgan Tuck was in the stands at the American Airlines Center in Dallas watching her old University of Connecticut women's basketball teammates struggle with Mississippi State in the NCAA Final Four semifinals on March 31, and the 2016 All-American was ready to start looking for her old No. 3 Huskies uniform.

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Jan 14, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and center Natalie Butler (51) clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. Connecticut won 88-48, for their 91st consecutive victory an NCAA record. (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)
Jan 14, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma and guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson (33) and center Natalie Butler (51) clap on the bench during the second half against the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. Connecticut won 88-48, for their 91st consecutive victory an NCAA record. (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)

When Natalie Butler arrived at the University of Connecticut after her Big East Freshman of the Year season at Georgetown in 2014, she seemed to be just what the Huskies needed.

With UConn losing WNBA first-round draft picks Stefanie Dolson in 2014 and Kiah Stokes in 2015, Butler was in the perfect spot to give the Huskies the post presence they'd need going forward.

The 6-foot-5 native of Fairfax Station, Virginia, impressed her teammates in the year she out due to NCAA transfer rules. But a thumb injury early in the 2015-16 campaign set her back and she never found the confidence she needed to be a consistent contributor in her two seasons.

UConn announced Wednesday that Butler has decided to transfer from UConn to her hometown school George Mason University. 

Tags: Natalie Butler
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Mar 11, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs and UCF Knights warm up before the start of the semifinals during the AAC Conference Tournament at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 11, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs and UCF Knights warm up before the start of the semifinals during the AAC Conference Tournament at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is returning to Hartford, Connecticut.

The NCAA announced Tuesday that the XL Center in Hartford will hold 2019 first- and second-round tournament games with the University of Connecticut as the host school. The dates are March 21 and 23.

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Fordham guard Antwoine Anderson dribbles around George Washington's Joe McDonald (22) last season. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Fordham guard Antwoine Anderson dribbles around George Washington's Joe McDonald (22) last season. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Antwoine Anderson, a graduate transfer from Fordham University, will play at UConn next season, according to multiple media reports.

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UConn guard Saniya Chong (Melina Vastola/USA Today Sports Images)
UConn guard Saniya Chong (Melina Vastola/USA Today Sports Images)

Saniya Chong was hoping to have a chance to play in the WNBA. The University of Connecticut senior guard will get that chance.

Chong was taken by the Dallas Wings with the second choice (No. 26 overall) in the third and final round of Thursday's WNBA Draft held in New York.

"I am truly blessed to be able to get this opportunity," Chong said in a statement released by UConn. "I am grateful and excited to start my new journey. Thank you to everyone out there that supported me."

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UConn Women Season in Review 00:03:54
Kara Wolters and Meg Culmo discuss how the heavily favored UConn women's basketball team was upset by Mississippi State in the Final Four.

UConn Men Season in Review 00:01:00
Taylor Rooks and Tarik Turner take a look back on the 2016-2017 UConn men's basketball season.

Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma listens during a press conference after the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj)
Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma listens during a press conference after the semifinals of the women's Final Four at American Airlines Center. (Kevin Jairaj)

Gabby Williams had seen the act before.

Five days before the University of Connecticut women's basketball team faced Mississippi State in the NCAA national semifinals at American Airlines Center in Dallas last Friday night she watched Morgan William and the Bulldogs stun Baylor in overtime to get to their first Final Four, earning the All-American junior forward's admiration and respect.

"It's what March is about," Williams said. "Teams are going to fight. Players are going to hit shots outside their comfort zone when it really matters. It goes to show it doesn't matter what your seed or anything is, it all depends on how you perform that night."

Truer words have never been spoken and last Friday night Williams saw it all happen again right in front of her. All that was left was to give props to the victors.

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GEICO SportsNite: Geno on loss 00:01:33
Justine Ward talks with UConn women's head coach Geno Auriemma to discuss their buzzer-beater loss to Mississippi State in the Final Four.

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 Images)
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 Images)

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team did not add to the Huskies of Honor on the wall at Gampel Pavilion this season.

That will change -- for the next two years.

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Rebecca Lobo, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall, celebrates after UConn won the 1995 NCAA title. (Courtesy University of Connecticut)
Rebecca Lobo, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall, celebrates after UConn won the 1995 NCAA title. (Courtesy University of Connecticut)

Rebecca Lobo always enjoyed visiting the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The former University of Connecticut star will now have a permanent spot there.

Lobo, a native of nearby Southwick, Massachusetts, will be part of the Hall's Class of 2017, it was announced Saturday. She will be inducted as a contributor.

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UConn Postgame Presser 00:04:00
Geno Auriemma and his players speak after UConn's 111-game winning streak is snapped by Mississippi State in the Final Four.

DALLAS -- In an instant, it was over.

It took until the NCAA Final Four semifinals but the University of Connecticut women's basketball team finally learned what a difference a year can make.

For 36 games, when the Huskies needed a basket they got one. When they needed a defensive stop, they got one. When they needed a play, they made one.

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 (Bill Streicher (USA Today))
(Bill Streicher (USA Today))

DALLAS -- Napheesa Collier will be 21-years-old on Sept. 23.

Her coaches and teammates with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team may not be aware of the exact date. But there are 12 WNBA general managers that are. Since her 22nd birthday is during the 2018 calendar year, Collier will be eligible to enter the 2018 WNBA Draft.

But before Husky Nation begins to panic, the All-America forward said Thursday she has no plans to move on until her eligibility is done in 2019.

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

DALLAS -- Geno Auriemma wanted to prove a point to his University of Connecticut women's basketball team Thursday about the Huskies' 60-point win over Mississippi State in last year's NCAA Sweet 16 victory.

So the 2017 Coach of the Year was awake early and watched tape. Moriah Jefferson was here, Morgan Tuck there, and Breanna Stewart everywhere as UConn did a number on the Bulldogs in the most lopsided regional semifinal win in tournament history. His emphasis later in the day to the Huskies in the locker room and at their workout, though, was on what he did not see.

"There's nobody on our team right now that had anything other than, 'I was at that game,' to do with that score," Auriemma said. "If you watch that game, Stewie looked like an NBA player playing against high school kids. Moriah was so much better than anybody on the floor. And Tuck just dominated long stretches of the game. So the score was 32-4 at the end of the first quarter."

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GEICO SportsNite: UConn women 00:01:40
Justine Ward profiles the UConn women's basketball team as it heads into its Final Four matchup against Mississippi State.

Feb 27, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Connecticut Huskies coach Geno Auriemma looks on during the second half against the South Florida Bulls at USF Sun Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)
Feb 27, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Connecticut Huskies coach Geno Auriemma looks on during the second half against the South Florida Bulls at USF Sun Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)

DALLAS -- Since 1989, Geno Auriemma's University of Connecticut women's basketball team has won at least 23 games on 28 occasions. The one miss came in 1993 when the Huskies finished 18-11.

The Big East Coach of the Year that season was Georgetown's Pat Knapp. The WBCA national Coach of the Year was Iowa's C. Vivian Stringer. Yet, some would still argue -- 11 national championships, 17 Final Four appearances, 40 league titles, and 24 years later -- that Auriemma may have done his best or one of his best coaching jobs just to get that team, which lost its last three games (the Huskies haven't lost two in a row since), into the NCAA tournament.

Whether Auriemma did his best job with his current club has entered the debate. After losing the top three picks of the 2016 WNBA Draft -- All-Americans Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck -- the Huskies went unbeaten against the toughest non-league schedule in the country then swept through the American Athletic Conference for the fourth straight year. UConn will take a 36-0 record and 111-game winning streak into Friday night's Final Four semifinal game against Mississippi State at the American Airlines Center.

Tags: Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson, Carl Adamec
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 (Phil Sears/USA Today Sports Images)
(Phil Sears/USA Today Sports Images)

DALLAS -- It was a 45-second video, but it made the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's day.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant sent his best wishes via video and through Nike this week to the Huskies, who take on Mississippi State in a NCAA Final Four semifinal game Friday night at American Airlines Center.

"It was obviously really exciting and he's the GOAT so anytime you can have the GOAT talk to you it's a great day," UConn guard Kia Nurse said. "He had a goal to win and that's what he was known for. So you look at someone of his caliber and the career that he had, that he took time out of his day to sit down and send us a video we are very grateful."

Stanford, which like UConn is affiliated with Nike, also received a video from Bryant. The Cardinal face South Carolina in the opener of Friday night's doubleheader.

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Katie Lou Samuelson, Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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Mar 19, 2017; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) reacts after her three point basket against the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Syracuse 94-64. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) reacts after her three point basket against the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated Syracuse 94-64. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS -- Kia Nurse won't be named an All-American during Final Four weekend. The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior guard is only playing like one during the NCAA tournament.

Nurse shot 75.8 percent from the floor and 76.9 percent from 3-point land while averaging 18.3 points during the Huskies' successful four-game run through the Bridgeport Regional. But when it was time to lift UConn into the Final Four for the 10th consecutive season Monday night, Nurse did what she does best -- play stifling defense -- to get the job done. 

Nurse kept Oregon freshman guard Sabrina Ionescu under wraps while the game was being decided and the top-seeded Huskies built an insurmountable lead as they coasted to a 90-52 win over the No. 10 Ducks at Webster Bank Arena.

Tags: Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
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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 00:01:40
The UConn women's basketball team defeated Oregon, 90-52, to move on to its 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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GEICO SportsNite: UConn women 00:01:29
Players on the UConn women's basketball team talk about their upcoming Elite 8 matchup against Oregon.

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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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)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson left the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's locker room at Webster Bank Arena Sunday afternoon with an extra hop to her step.

The top-seeded Huskies' practice for Monday's NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional final with No. 10 Oregon was about to begin but the toughest part of the sophomore guard's day was done.

Moments before, she had watched on a computer as her older sister, Karlie, kept her college career alive as Stanford rallied past Notre Dame 76-75 to win the Lexington (Kentucky) Regional and advance to the Final Four in Dallas.

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson
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GEICO SportsNite: UConn rolls 00:02:18
Gabby Williams, Naphessa Collier and Geno Auriemma discuss the different aspects of UConn's game that helped them advance to the Elite Eight

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Saniya Chong entered Saturday having played 11 games in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 and beyond for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.

Her totals were 40 minutes played and six points.

But in a season where the Huskies have needed her the most, the senior guard responded -- again. And UConn is one win away from its record 10th straight Final Four appearance.

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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)

Top-seeded UConn looks to advance to its 12th consecutive NCAA Elite Eight Saturday when it takes on No. 4 UCLA in a Bridgeport Regional semifinal game at sold-out Webster Bank Arena.

Tags: University of Connecticut
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GEICO SportsNite: UConn 00:01:23
Justine Ward talks to senior guard Saniya Chong as the UConn women's basketball team prepares for its 24th consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.

 (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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