UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- As is tradition with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, the Huskies did not cut down the nets at Mohegan Sun Arena Monday night after wrapping up the American Athletic Conference tournament championship.
It may have been a safety issue as the nets were still too hot to handle after Katie Lou Samuelson got through with them.
Samuelson scored a career high 40 points -- including a NCAA record 10-for-10 effort from 3-point range -- to earn Most Outstanding Player honors as the top-seeded Huskies completed their run to the AAC title with a 100-44 rout of third-seeded South Florida before a crowd of 6,448 at the casino.
"The thing that helped me out it that I didn't start out the game focused on threes," Samuelson said. "I focused on just playing. Then they were going in and I kept shooting it and they felt good. I was getting open shots and my teammates kept getting me the ball so I was going to keep shooting."
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). Her total established a UConn postseason record, breaking the previous mark of 39 that Kerry Bascom set against Toledo in a NCAA tournament second-round game at Gampel Pavilion on March 16, 1991.
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.
"I'm not really surprised. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner because she's a great shooter," UConn forward Napheesa Collier said. "We all know that Lou's a great player and she played so well tonight.
"We were just talking and said, 'There's no way you went 10-for-10. That's just crazy,' She had a great game."
UConn (32-0) also clinched its 29th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance as it receives the AAC's automatic bid. The Huskies will be the No. 1 overall seed when the 64-team field is announced next Monday and will open play at Gampel Pavilion either March 17 or 18. With two wins in Storrs, they would advance to the regionals, which for them will likely mean a trip to Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. The NCAA Final Four is set for March 31 and April 2 in Dallas.
Samuelson was joined on the all-tournament team by UConn's Collier and Gabby Williams, USF's Kitija Laksa and Maria Jespersen, and Temple's Feyonda Fitzgerald. It's the second consecutive year that Samuelson has been named to the squad. In the three games here over the weekend, she averaged 23.7 points, four rebounds and 4.3 assists.
"I want to be sure that I'm playing good basketball at the end of the season," Samuelson said. "I want my teammates to know that they can count on me going into the tournaments. That's really important to me. If things get rough and when they get more difficult, I'm going to be there to step up. I need to do that from here on out."
UConn made quick work of USF in pushing its overall winning streak to 107 and its postseason run to 36.
The Huntington Beach, California, native made her presence felt from the start with a strong drive to the basket that led to a pair of free throws followed by a steal and 3-pointer.
"I concentrated on playing as hard as I could on defense and cutting hard and my shot kind of follows after that," Samuelson said. "The games I focus on just shooting I have my worst games. I focused on everything else but shooting and things fell into place for me."
Samuelson had eight points, including her first two treys, as the Huskies took a 12-0 lead with 3:48 gone, forcing USF coach Jose Fernandez to use his first two timeouts. She finished the quarter with 11 points as UConn was up 30-11. She scored 29 points as UConn led 62-23 at halftime.
She took a seat for the first and only time with 2:19 left in the third quarter after making two free throws (she was also 6-for-6 from the foul line) to get her to 40 points and pushing UConn's lead to 54.
"I love playing and I want to be out there," Samuelson said. "But I enjoy watching my teammates out there. I'm not upset I didn't play more. I am pretty tired after these last three games. It was great to see the younger players get in there and show what they can do."
Saniya Chong's 3-pointer with 5:02 left got the Huskies into triple figures for the second time in three tourney games.
There were no complaints from their coach.
"There's not much you can say, really, when you see something like that the way that it transpired," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "There's really no way to adequetely describe it because it's just a feeling. We just had something going on that's kind of hard to capture and we were able to capture it and hold on to it for a long, long time. It started off the first three, four possessions defensively and set a tone on how we wanted it to go. We hardly made any mistakes at all defensively and that got everything going down the other end.
"When Lou gets it going early and makes some shots early, it changes everything for our team. She has the ability to blow games wide open. And the confidence that we get from that just spills over to everyone else. But more important, it was the way she played, not just the way she shot the ball."
Even with Samuelson's outburst, UConn still put five players in double figures. Collier finished with 15 points, Williams 12 points and six assists, Chong 11 points and reserve Natalie Butler had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Huskies shot 62.3 percent from the floor and had 31 assists attached to their 38 baskets.
Dorottya Nagy had 15 points off the bench for USF. And for the third time this season, Laksa, the 2016 AAC Freshman of the Year and a unanimous first-team pick this season, was no factor as she had 13 points.
The Bulls (24-8) are expected to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
UConn is 82-0 overall in AAC play as seniors Chong and Tierney Lawlor become the first Huskies class to go unbeaten in league play in their careers.