UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson put on a show Monday night for 6,448 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena, a national television audience, and her University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
But Huskies' freshman Crystal Dangerfield had seen the act before.
On June 23, 2013, in the gold-medal game of the FIBA Americas U-16 tournament in Cancun, Mexico, Samuelson scored 24 points on a USA Basketball record 8-for-8 effort from 3-point land to lead Team USA to a victory over Canada.
It was a performance that got the attention of former UConn star and now four-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi, who, at the WNBA All-Star Game a month later, raved about "the kid from Mater Dei" and her stunning performance.
"I do remember that game," Dangerfield -- who was the youngest player on the U-16 squad and Samuelson's roommate on the trip -- said Monday night. "You know, we call Lou 'Sniper.' She was doing her thing tonight."
The UConn sophomore guard shot down South Florida Monday night, putting her stamp on the fourth annual American Athletic Conference tournament and on the Huskies and NCAA record books.
Samuelson scored a career high 40 points, which included a NCAA record 10-for-10 display from 3-point land that earned her Most Outstanding Player honors, as the top-seeded Huskies completed their run to the AAC title with a 100-44 rout of No. 3 USF at the casino.
"I didn't know I had made all my threes. I thought I had missed one," Samuelson said.
Samuelson finished 12-for-14 from the floor overall and also made all six of her free throws while chipping in five assists and a pair of steals.
It did bring back memories of Cancun, minus about 60 degrees in temperature outside. The bizarre part of the box score from the USA-Canada game four years ago is that while she made all her shots from behind the arc, she missed all six of her tries inside it.
"I wasn't 0-for-6 tonight so I stepped up from that," Samuelson said with a laugh.
The Huntington Beach, California, native is the seventh UConn sophomore to win league tournament MOP honors, joining Kerry Bascom (1989), Kara Wolters (1995), Shea Ralph (1999), Tamika Williams (2000), Maya Moore (2009), and Breanna Stewart (2014). She broke Tina Charles' school league tournament mark of 34 points set against Syracuse in 2010, and the UConn postseason record of 39 points by Bascom in the NCAA second round against Toledo in 1991.
"I was just trying to get her the ball whenever I could," UConn forward Gabby Williams said. "You could just feel it. She had the hot hand. I think I set a million and one screens for her today because I just knew when she touched the ball it was going in."
Samuelson is the third UConn player to reach the 40-point plateau, joining Nykesha Sales (46 vs. Stanford in 1997) and Maya Moore (40 vs. Syracuse in 2009 and 41 vs. Florida State in 2010). The 10 3-pointers match the school shared by Moore (vs. Syracuse) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (vs. UC Davis in 2014). The 10 consecutive makes equals Caroline Doty's school record set over a three-game span in 2008.
UConn (32-0) also clinched its 29th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance with the win as it receives the AAC's automatic bid. The Huskies will be the overall No. 1 seed when the 64-team field is announced next Monday and Samuelson will get a shot to break her tie with Doty in UConn's first-round Bridgeport Regional game at Gampel Pavilion March 17 or 18.
"I think the things that kind of helped me out is that I didn't start out the game focusing on threes," Samuelson said. "I had done that the past couple games and it hadn't gone well. So I tried to focus on just playing. They were kind of going in. I kept shooting, it felt good, and I was getting open shots and my teammates kept giving me the ball. I was going to keep shooting until ... Actually, I was going to keep shooting."
In the stands, the person who had taught her to shoot whether in the gym or in the backyard watched his youngest daughter with pride.
Afterwards, UConn assistant coach Marisa Moseley gave Jon Samuelson a huge hug and told him, "I'm so happy you were here to see this." He certainly was.
"She gets on a hot streak sometimes and that basket must look huge to her and she was knocking them down," Jon Samuelson said. "It was nice to see, very nice.
"She looked focused, and she looked focused before the game. I think she didn't try to focus on threes but work on defense and doing little things. I know she talked to Coach (Geno Auriemma) about that and once she did it everything fell into place. I'm very happy for her."
It's been a big week for the Samuelson family. Early last week Karlie Samuelson, a senior at Stanford, was named to the Pac-12 all-star team for the first time. On Sunday night, she helped the Cardinal rally past Oregon State to capture the Pac-12 tournament title.
Last Thursday, Katie Lou Samuelson was voted unanimously to the all-AAC first team and on Friday picked up a share of the league's Player of the Year honor with teammate Napheesa Collier. It was also her second straight appearance on the AAC all-tournament team. And is there any better way to strengthen the case to be an All-American than scoring 40 in a championship game and breaking NCAA records on ESPN?
"It definitely felt good out there, and my teammates were pretty excited whenever I hit something so that kind of let me know more than anything else that something was happening," Samuelson said. "But I was getting open shots, and I was going to keep taking them when I was open."
She took a seat for the first and only time with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter after making two free throws to get her to 40 points and pushing UConn's lead to 54. There was no reason to inflict further damage onto the overmatched Bulls though she was just six points away from Sales' single-game record.
Her effort also allowed her to regain the scoring lead in the AAC after losing it to Collier for one day. Samuelson will enter NCAA tournament play averaging 21.0 points on 49.4 percent shooting from the floor, a league-leading 43.7 percent from behind the arc, and 84.5 percent from the foul line. Of note, she is also in the AAC's top 15 in assists and the top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Huskies will take three days off before returning to practice Friday and they'll learn their NCAA draw Monday. But Samuelson knows she'll have a tough act to follow.
UConn incoming freshman Megan Walker (6-foot-1 wing, Chesterfield, Virginia) was named the 2017 WBCA Player of the Year and to the organization's All-America team Monday.
"Megan has played an integral role in guiding her team to an extraordinary season, and is very deserving of this distinguished honor," WBCA executive director Danielle Donehew said in a statement. "The WBCA applauds Megan for her hard work, dedication, and contributions to the game during the 2016-17 season."
Walker is averaging 25.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for Monacan High (29-0), which will go for its third straight Class 4A state championship against King's Fork on Friday. She reached the 2,000-point plateau for her career last Thursday in the Chiefs' quarterfinal win.
She is a 2017 Naismith Trophy finalist and will participate in the McDonald's All- America Game later this month and the Jordan Brand Classic in April.
Fellow UConn Class of 2017 recruits Mikayla Coombs, Lexi Gordon, and Andra Espinoza-Hunter were named WBCA All-America honorable mention.
Coombs (5-8 guard, Buford Georgia) will lead Wesleyan School into the state Class A Private tournament final Friday against Holy Innocents in a rematch of last year's title game. She will also play in the McDonald's Game and the Jordan Brand Classic.
Espinoza-Hunter (5-11 guard, Ossining, New York) had 32 points and 11 rebounds and was named tournament MVP on Sunday as Ossining topped Albertus Magnus 80-77 for its seventh straight Class AA sectional championship. Ossining will face undefeated Section 9 champion Monroe-Woodbury in the state regional semifinals Tuesday.
Gordon (6-0 wing, Fort Worth, Texas) saw her season end last month. She will play in the Jordan Brand Classic.