STORRS, Conn. -- Whether Katie Lou Samuelson can make a stretch run towards becoming the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's next national Player of the Year while dealing with her injured left ankle remains to be seen.
But it's hard to find many players around the country who are playing better than the Huskies' All-American guard is right now.
Samuelson gave UConn 40 minutes Monday night and scored 26 points as the top-ranked Huskies topped No. 4 Louisville 69-58 before an announced sellout crowd of 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion.
"She's showing everyone that she's the rock of our team," fellow UConn All-American Gabby Williams said. "She's proving to us we can rely on her for everything every game. She got a couple offensive rebounds for us. She played good defense. She did other things besides score.
"To me the Player of the Year is someone who knows how to win, regardless of what her statistics are. They're going to do whatever they have to do for their team to win."
UConn's junior class of Samuelson and All-American Napheesa Collier is 99-1 in a Huskies uniform. The duo will go for win No. 100 Sunday when UConn entertains Temple in American Athletic Conference action at the XL Center in Hartford.
Collier finished with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Williams posted her third double-double in the last five games with 12 points and 15 rebounds. The senior forward also had six assists as she also played the entire 40 minutes while dealing with a hip issue.
"Every time I go to take someone out I go, 'Oh man, I don't know if I want to do that. I'll get them a breather a little bit later, ' " UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Then a little bit later comes and I'll go, 'Aww, maybe a little bit later.' Then you look up and 40 minutes go by.
"I keep saying we've got some players that are pretty tough. Gabby made some plays that are just impossible to describe. It's the stuff she does is unlike anything a lot of people have seen. When she's got it going like that ... And she and Lou worked really well together. They got a lot done and kept the defense off balance."
Samuelson also reached the 1,500-point plateau Monday night. She was 10-for-17 from the floor, including 4-for-9 from 3-point land.
"I'm happy I got the opportunity tonight," Samuelson said. "But I'm more excited for how we played and how great of a win it was."
The win gives UConn (25-0) its 25th straight 25-win season, though it reached 30 in 22 of the previous 24 campaigns. It was also the Huskies' 37th consecutive win over Atlantic Coast Conference opponents dating back to a loss at North Carolina on Jan. 15, 2007, and their 76th straight win at home.
One big run would be decisive Monday night.
After Arica Carter opened the scoring for Louisville (25-2), the Huskies scored 24 of the next 25 points as they forced the Cardinals to miss 10 consecutive shots and forced them into nine turnovers.
"A huge part was our defense and I think that starts with Kia (Nurse) and Gabby," Samuelson said. "The way they played, they shut them down really quickly. We had that momentum on offense and executed all of our plays perfectly. We ran each one to get a different option every time. We kept going to what we were good at.
"We know what we're good at and one of our strengths is pushing the ball, running our offense quickly and getting a good shot. We have so many different scorers that unless you're matched up the way you want to be someone is going to be open."
Collier got UConn on the board and Samuelson hit two free throws and a 3-pointer to get the Huskies' offense going. Two baskets each by Williams and Collier followed with hoops from Samuelson and Williams making it 19-3. Dana Evans made a free throw for Louisville, but Samuelson netted the next five points to make it 24-4.
Louisville got it back to 15, but a spurt at the end of the first half capped by a Crystal Dangerfield 3 made it 42-22 at the break. Dangerfield would play 30 minutes as she deals with shin splints in her left leg.
"We had some good shots and we missed," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "I thought we took some that were too quick that led to transition for them and that's something you can't do. You've got to make that extra pass and get them to try to guard you. After the first quarter, I thought we did a good job of that.
"That's the one thing about them, they can score. And, unfortunately, they scored a bunch in the first quarter and put us behind the eight ball."
UConn's biggest lead was 22 and came on the first possession of the third quarter when Collier scored. The Cardinals seemed a basket and a stop away from making it interesting but couldn't get what they needed.
It was 57-40 going to the fourth quarter and still 63-49 with 5:15 left. But Azura Stevens scored for the Huskies on an offensive rebound and the closest Louisville got was the final score.
The Huskies had 22 assists attached to their 28 field goals.
"It's not easy to get a lot of real good players who scored 4,000 points in high school to come to Connecticut and tell them, 'Tonight you're going to have to pass the ball,' " Auriemma said. "They break out in a rash. We have to make sure we stay with what we're doing and the first half was perfect. The second half was a little but ugly. I don't think we were as sharp. Maybe we got tired a little bit."
Asia Durr, Louisville's national Player of the Year candidate, had 20 points but was 7-for-19 from the floor in her 40 minutes. Myisha Hines-Allen added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Nurse had the assignment defensively against Durr, and though the senior guard had just four points and four assists in her 35 minutes she had no complaints.
"For me personally it's whatever the team needs on that night and that was my job today," Nurse said. "Lou did a great job knocking down a bunch of shots. Gabby's passes were on point and Pheesa as well. I think when you come in and have all these people who do their roles and do them well, that's what makes us special."
UConn has won 19 straight against top-five opponents a and is 8-0 against ranked teams including wins over current top 10 clubs Louisville, Notre Dame, Texas, UCLA, South Carolina, and Maryland. Only one ranked team -- No. 22 South Florida -- remains on the regular season schedule.
The Huskies will play a return game at Louisville's KFC Yum! Center next season.