(Thomas J. Russo)
(Thomas J. Russo)

STORRS, Conn. -- When Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck headed for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's bench with 1:46 left in the NCAA final last April 5, they took with them 5,506 points, 2,129 rebounds and 1,369 assists.
 
Then there's that 151-5 four-year record and the unprecedented four consecutive national championships.

While the Huskies will still put five players on the floor that can score, rebound and pass when they open the 2016-17 season at No. 12 Florida State on Monday, no one will have the experience the Big Three took with them.

"I would much rather have experience because you can get by with less talent if you have experience," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "All the talent in the world without experience, you'll come up short. Now, you might come up short with experience and not enough talent, I get that. But all things being equal, when you have that experience of having been there and done that, that goes a long way."

Juniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams and sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier have been there and done that. But their journey was aided by the top three choices in the 2016 WNBA Draft.

For the first time since 2013, the Huskies are not ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll. They and their 75-game winning streak checked in at No. 3. And for the first time since 1992, they enter the season without a first- or second-team all-conference player or the league's reigning Freshman of the Year returning.

Welcome to the new reality at UConn.

"I don't think that it affects what we do behind close doors," Williams said. "People are always going to have their opinions about us. But with those three seniors ... We kind of expect it because those guys were so big but that doesn't necessarily mean the rest of us were so small. We are going to play with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder and it's going to be fun. We're going to prove a lot of people wrong."

They'll get their chance against some of the best competition the country has to offer. By New Year's Day they will have faced No. 1 Notre Dame, second-ranked Baylor, No. 6 Maryland, seventh-ranked Ohio State, No. 8 Texas, 12th-ranked Florida State and No. 21 DePaul. Waiting for them on Feb. 13 will be fourth-ranked South Carolina.

Talk about being thrown into the fire.

"You're going in with the idea that when March comes around we've been in enough situations that they've learned how to overcome what they don't have," Auriemma said. "That's a big part of what teams are supposed to do. They're supposed to start at one point and grow as the season goes on. That's my plan for this team."

Nurse has started more games (74) than the rest of her teammates combined. She also has the experience of playing for Team Canada in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. That's likely a big reason she was named the American Athletic Conference preseason Player of the Year even though she was a third-team pick last March.

Williams was the AAC's co-Sixth Player of the Year as a freshman and was even better off the bench a season ago. She started the final game against Syracuse after Samuelson broke her left foot two days earlier and just missed a double-double.

Samuelson was passed over for AAC Freshman of the Year but, really, there was no rookie in the country better the second half of the season. She was outstanding in the postseason and played maybe her best all-around half against Oregon State with the broken foot.

Collier joined Samuelson on the AAC all-freshman team even though she played with a torn labrum in her hip that required surgery in April. She was also one of the more efficient Huskies.

So Auriemma has some cards to play with.

"It's tough to replace talent, but at the same time, no one is going to be Stewie, Moriah or Tuck," Nurse said. "We don't want anyone to try to be Stewie, Moriah or Tuck. We want them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

"In terms of experience, the only way you get more is by going through different things, right? But as much as everyone will talk about what we lost, we focus on what we have and what we have gained and what we have to do to be successful."

UConn welcomes three freshmen to the mix -- McDonald's High School All-American guard Crystal Dangerfield, point guard Molly Bent and forward Kyla Irwin.

All will get the chance to contribute from the start and have made positive impressions on their coaches and teammates.

The Core Four will have to carry them.

"In many ways we played more of a supporting role last year," Nurse said. "The other three would do whatever it took for us to win and they would help us through it every single way. This year we're the ones helping the younger guys. We've moved 180 degrees."

Then there are two veterans that if they have solid seasons would make UConn very tough to beat.

Senior Saniya Chong has been up and down throughout her career, starting the year strong and being a non-factor at the finish. She's enjoyed another strong preseason and her experience would make the adjustment for Dangerfield and Bent much easier, as well as allowing Nurse to play primarily off the ball on offense.

Junior Natalie Butler seemed ready to step right in a year ago but was derailed by a thumb injury and never recovered. No one is expecting her to put up the numbers she did when she was the 2014 Big East Freshman of the Year at Georgetown. But, at 6-foot-5, she needs to provide an inside presence. No one else has her size.

"When you take away all your points, all your rebounds, all your assists and all your blocked shots and all your defense from your team, there is a void," Auriemma said. "So naturally when there is a void, people have to fill it. In our offensive sets when you are doing things, the ball is going to end up somewhere. Somebody is going to shoot it. Generally speaking, certain players gravitate toward the ball more than others. You are going to find that Lou is going to get a lot of shots, because she is all over the court, and she can score from a lot of different places. Napheesa, Gabby and Kia, they are going to get a lot of opportunities that didn't exist for them last year."

The Huskies are the AAC favorites. If they are a top-four seed in a NCAA tournament regional, they could reach the Final Four in Dallas without leaving Connecticut.

Can they make more history?

"All we can do as individuals is to come together as a team," Williams said.

That's their best chance to take the fifth

Tags: Kia Nurse, Carl Adamec
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Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley watches from the sideline as they take on the Temple Owls in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. Temple defeated UConn 78-71. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley watches from the sideline as they take on the Temple Owls in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. Temple defeated UConn 78-71. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

UConn netted its first commitment of the 2020 recruiting class Wednesday and it was a big one.

The Huskies received a pledge from four-star Andre Jackson of Albany, New York, who gives second-year head coach Dan Hurley recruiting momentum before the 2019-20 season.

The 6-foot-6, 195-pound Jackson is the 247Sports Composite's No. 70 overall prospect, No. 16 small forward and No. 3 player in New York for the current recruiting cycle. 

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Big East adds UConn Huskies 00:01:43
UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley gives his comments on the Huskies being back in the Big East Conference.

Thursday was a momentous day for UConn, as the school was welcomed back as a member of the Big East, though they won't officially make the move until 2020.

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman called UConn's move out of the American Athletic Conference back "an opportunity that we simply couldn't pass up", and men's basketball coach Dan Hurley echoed those thoughts.

"The incredible history and tradition of UConn basketball and the Big East Conference, they're intertwined," Hurley told SNY. "Four National Championships the last 20-plus years on the men's side, obviously the success Geno [Auriemma] has had, and it's all been intertwined."

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Big East adds UConn Huskies 00:01:23
Big East commission Val Ackerman announces that the UConn Huskies are officially back as a member of the Big East Conference.

UConn made the move back into the Big East Conference, as the Board of Trustees voted to withdraw their school from the American Athletic Conference on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, it was made official.

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman addressed the large crowd at Madison Square Garden to welcome back the Huskies to the Big East. She noted this being "an opportunity that we simply couldn't pass up," and with what UConn has accomplished in the conference, this was a match made in heaven once again...

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A Big East logo on the court at the Wells Fargo Center (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
A Big East logo on the court at the Wells Fargo Center (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

The UConn Board of Trustees voted to withdraw the school from the American Athletic Conference and accept an invitation to the Big East Conference on Wednesday.

UConn, which left the Big East in 2013 to join the AAC, will return beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.

Big East presidents approved UConn's invitation on a conference call on Monday. 

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The Big East logo on the court at The Pavilion (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
The Big East logo on the court at The Pavilion (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

UConn is reportedly headed back to the Big East, and the school reportedly cleared one hurdle on Monday.

Big East presidents approved UConn's invitation on a conference call on Monday, CBS Sports' Matt Norlander reports, and UConn's Board of Trustees is reportedly expected to vote and approve the move on Wednesday. A formal announcement could come Thursday.

UConn, which left the Big East in 2013 to join the American Athletic Conference, would return to the Big East for the 2020-21 academic year.

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Connecticut Huskies guard Jalen Adams reacts with guard Christian Vital after a play against the Cornell Big Red in the second half at XL Center. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard Jalen Adams reacts with guard Christian Vital after a play against the Cornell Big Red in the second half at XL Center. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

UConn men's basketball star guard Jalen Adams signed with the New Orleans Pelicans after the NBA draft, the team announced.

Adams averaged 16.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 26 games as a senior, his final season cut short due to a sprained MCL.

As a junior, Adams averaged 18.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

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 (Charles LeClaire)
(Charles LeClaire)

A UConn legend in Swin Cash has reportedly secured a senior front-office position with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe.

Lowe has the official title for Cash being the vice president of basketball operations and team development, which has the duties of guiding player development and scouting among others. 

The Pelicans have been revamping their front office, with new president of basketball operations David Griffin leading the way. Griffin has also brought in Trajan Langdon to be the team's new GM. 

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UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson reacts after a play against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half in the championship game of the Albany regional in the women's 2019 NCAA tournament at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)
UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson reacts after a play against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half in the championship game of the Albany regional in the women's 2019 NCAA tournament at Times Union Center. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

After finishing their UConn careers, UConn greats Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier are officially leaving Storrs to begin their WNBA careers.

Samuelson was drafted fourth by the Chicago Sky, while Collier was picked sixth by the Minnesota Lynx at Wednesday's WNBA draft.

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Legacy of Katie Lou & Napheesa 00:01:23
UConn Huskies may have lost in the Final Four but the impact Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson will be remembered for years to come

The UConn Huskies may have lost in the Final Four, but the impact Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier had will be remembered for years to come.

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Hurley establishing good culture 00:01:39
UConn Huskies head coach Dan Hurley is establishing good culture after his first full season and has the Huskies back on track to greatness

UConn head coach Dan Hurley is establishing good culture after his first full season, and has the Huskies back on track to greatness.

 

 

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UConn falls 81-76 to Notre Dame 00:01:19
UConn fell short in the Final Four against Notre Dame losing 81-76. Katie Lou Samuelson & Naphessa Collier finish their careers as Huskies

The University of Connecticut Lady Huskies fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the second consecutive season in the NCAA Tournament semifinal, 81-76, in Tampa Bay. 


Things to know about Friday's game...

1) With one minute left to play, the Huskies were down just one point. And though they got some good looks at taking the lead, it was Brianna Turner for the Irish that came up with big blocks to keep Notre Dame's lead. She is Notre Dame's blocks leader in team history, and it came up big tonight. She also had 15 points and 14 rebounds...

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UConn Final Four hype video 00:00:50
UConn Huskies are in their 12th consecutive Final Four appearance and head coach Geno Auriemma knows it's going to be a battle

The UConn Huskies are in their 12th consecutive Final Four appearance, and head coach Geno Auriemma knows it's going to be a battle against defending champion Notre Dame.

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UConn takes on Notre Dame 00:01:28
SNY's Justine Ward talks to Katie Lou Samuelson about UConn's clash with Notre Dame in the Final Four on Friday night.

The University of Connecticut Lady Huskies know this moment all too well. They're just looking for a different result this time. 

UConn traveled to Tampa, FL for the Final Four, and lo and behold they're facing Notre Dame once again with the winner heading to the National Championship. Husky fans will remember what happened the past two seasons -- two losses in the semifinal in the game's final seconds. 

Last season, it came at the hands of Notre Dame, which is why UConn has been in the film room watching exactly what went wrong in that game so it doesn't happen this time around...

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson
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Samuelson on the big UConn win 00:01:19
UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson talks with SNY's Maria Marino about UConn's win over Louisville, earning them another trip to the Final Four

For the fourth time in her career, Katie Lou Samuelson is headed to the Final Four. 

UConn defeated Louisville, 80-73, on Friday for the program's 12th consecutive semifinal appearance. Samuleson poured in 29 points in the winning effort. 

"I think just understanding that i needed to step up bigger than i did on Friday and understanding that if i didn't this could be the end of the road for me," Samuelson said. "There was a lot on the line and we wanted to get back to the Final Four." 

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson
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UConn advances to Final Four 00:01:57
UConn's Geno Auriemma and Katie Lou Samuelson comment on Samuelson's 29-point performance, leading UConn to it's 20th Final Four appearance.

Katie Lou Samuleson led the UConn Lady Huskies to a 80-73 Elite Eight win over Louisville to advance to the FInal Four on Sunday afternoon.


Things to know about Sunday's game...

1) The Huskies owned an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, but they were close to blowing it. With just 26.6 seconds left on the clock, the Huskies saw their lead cut to two. Luckily, though, they hit their free throws. Samuelson drained two to make it 77-73, and when Asia Durr from Louisville had a chance to move it back to a two-point lead for UConn, she missed them both. Napheese Collier, then, got fouled and hit her free throws to pull away a bit. 

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UConn preps for Louisville 00:02:55
Louisville was one of two losses for UConn during the regular season. The two teams will now face off in the Elite Eight in Albany.

Geno Auriemma and the UConn women's basketball team are back in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight for a remarkable 14th straight year, but they face a tall task on Sunday as the No. 2-seeded Huskies face No. 1 Louisville in the Albany Regional final. UConn lost to Louisville back on Jan. 31, 78-69.

Does that result have any impact on Sunday's matchup?

"I think every team understands that what happens in the regular season, that happened last year almost," Auriemma told SNY's Maria Marino. "This is a whole new year. Postseason play is completely different than regular-season play. We've certainly been there before where we won a couple of games in the regular season and you lose to the same team in the postseason. I don't think what happened in that first game is gonna have a lot of bearing on what happens in this game."

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UConn advances to Elite 8 00:01:45
UConn Huskies defeat UCLA and advance to their 14th straight Elite 8. Geno Auriemma expands on how his players grinded out this win.

The UConn Lady Huskies were tested by the UCLA Bruins on Friday night, but they picked it up for a 69-61 win to advance in the NCAA Tournament >> Box Score

Things to know about tonight's game...

1) Napheesa Collier led the way for UConn with 25 points, 10 boards, and four blocks on the defensive end. 

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier
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UConn preps for UCLA 00:02:18
Maria Marino talked to Geno Auriemma ahead of the Huskies Sweet 16 game against UCLA. They face off Friday at 7pm.

As expected, the University of Connecticut Lady Huskiesd waltzed their way through the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. 

Now, they find themselves in Albany, NY for the Sweet 16 to face off against sixth-seeded UCLA. It's still survive and advance for UConn, but head coach Geno Auriemma has an interesting take on how he looks at the tournament.

"I think when you get here it's a new tournament," Auriemma told SNY's Maria Marino. "The way we treat the NCAA Tournament is it's three little tournaments, you know. So the first one's over, that was last weekend. Now you start a new one."

Auriemma also discussed what the Bruins bring to the table, and how UConn's game against Buffalo helped prepare them for this game...

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Collier and UConn go to Sweet 16 00:00:50
UConn's Napheesa Collier talks to SNY about the team's win over Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, sending UConn to the Sweet 16

Napheesa Collier scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as UConn held off 10th seeded Buffalo 84-72 on Sunday night to move into the Sweet 16 for a 26th consecutive season.

Katie Lou Samuelson and freshman Christyn Williams each added 17 points for the No. 2 seed Huskies (33-2).

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Geno Auriemma on Round 2 00:01:29
On his birthday, UConn coach Geno Auriemma talks about Katie Lou Samuelson's return to the team and their 2nd round game against Buffalo

STORRS -- Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson had quite the introduction to Gampel Pavilion as freshmen. In their first regular season game, UConn played archrival Notre Dame in front of a sold-out crowd.

"That's one of the games I remember the crowd being crazy," Samuelson said. "One of the few games in my career I actually remember the crowd and that was definitely one of them, especially because it was one of the big games."

Collier didn't remember the game as much as her feelings leading up to it.

"I remember how nervous I was. Just being in this environment with our fans," she said. "Playing in Gampel, it was a lot."

Tags: Crystal Dangerfield, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier
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UConn crushes Towson in huge win 00:01:01
UConn crushed Towson 110-61 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Katie Lou Samuelson returned to action after missing 3 weeks.

STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn wanted to make a statement after failing to get a No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Message sent.

Napheesa Collier scored 23 points and UConn, in the unusual position of being a No. 2 seed, got off to its usual NCAA tournament start with a 110-61 rout of 15th-seeded Towson on Friday night.

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Huskies are ready to face Towson 00:02:29
UConn is in unfamiliar territory as a number two seed in the NCAA tournament, but the Huskies aren't worried in the slightest about it.

For the first time since 2006, the UConn women's basketball team enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed.

Geno Auriemma, Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson talk about that and more ahead of their Friday matchup against No. 15 Towson in the first round.

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier
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Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and forward Napheesa Collier react after a play against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at XL Center (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)
Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson and forward Napheesa Collier react after a play against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at XL Center (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

STORRS -- Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson had a perfect start to their college career, literally. As freshmen, the Huskies went undefeated and won the program's 11th national championship. 

Since then, the two classmates have done plenty of winning -- eight conference titles, helping build a 111-game win streak and reaching three straight Final Fours -- but they're missing one thing: a second national championship.

Fair or not, careers are judged at UConn by how many rings a player wins. 

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier
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Mar 2, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) drives the basket against the Houston Cougars in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 2, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) drives the basket against the Houston Cougars in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

STORRS -- UConn women's basketball senior Katie Lou Samuelson will return for the NCAA Tournament after missing the previous four games due to a back injury suffered on Senior Day on March 2.

"I'm ready to go. I'm excited to get playing again," Samuelson announced.

While Samuelson admitted she isn't back to 100 percent just yet, she will be once the Huskies tip-off in the first round against 15-seed Towson on Friday.

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Geno Auriemma talks Tourney 00:00:50
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma talks to SNY's Justine Ward about his team getting a "rare" # 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Katie Lou Samuelson is expected to return to 2-seed UConn for its NCAA tournament opener on Friday against 15-seed Towson, head coach Geno Auriemma told SNY.tv's Justine Ward.

Samuelson, who has averaged 18.0 points and 6.7 rebounds this season, has missed the Huskies' last four games, including the entire American Athletic Conference tournament, due to a back injury.

She last played March 2 vs. Houston, when she scored 11 points in 17:48 of playing time.

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Geno Auriemma talks Tourney 00:00:50
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma talks to SNY's Justine Ward about his team getting a "rare" # 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Nearly four hours before the scheduled women's NCAA Tournament bracket reveal on ESPN, the network accidentally leaked the entire bracket on Monday during the 3 p.m. Eastern hour on ESPNU.

ESPN acknowledged its error in a statement. 

"In working with the NCAA to prepare for tonight's Women's Selection Special we received the bracket, similar to years past. In the midst of our preparation, the bracket was mistakenly posted on ESPNU," it said in the statement. "We deeply regret the error and extend our apology to the NCAA and the women's basketball community. We will conduct a thorough review of our process to ensure it doesn't happen in the future. We will now broadcast the full bracket at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2, and the regularly-scheduled show on ESPN at 7 p.m."

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Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) reacts after his basket against Temple Owls guard Shizz Alston Jr. (10) in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) reacts after his basket against Temple Owls guard Shizz Alston Jr. (10) in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) UConn's success in March continued in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference tournament thanks to accurate first-half shooting that spread into the early stages of the second.

The shooting that hovered above 63 percent with eight minutes left in the game, provided enough of a buffer for UConn to withstand a late run by South Florida, allowing the Huskies to hold on for an 80-73 victory on Thursday.

"(The Huskies) run and their transition offense really put us in a bind," USF coach Brian Gregory said. "We were on our heels in transition." >> Read More

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UCONN wins AAC Tournament 00:00:48
The Huskies are just warming up. They easily won the AAC tournament and improved their all-time record to 120-0 in conference play.

No. 2 UConn was forced to play the American Athletic Conference Tournament without injured All-American Katie Lou Samuelson and may have become a more complete team as a result.

Napheesa Collier scored 25 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, and the Huskies beat UCF 66-45 Monday night to win their sixth straight league tournament championship.

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Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley watches from the sideline as they take on the Temple Owls in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. Temple defeated UConn 78-71. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley watches from the sideline as they take on the Temple Owls in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. Temple defeated UConn 78-71. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) After missing seven games with a sprained ligament in his knee, Connecticut senior guard Jalen Adams was adamant about playing Sunday.

He told coach Danny Hurley that he wanted to wear the UConn jersey again, then took the Huskies' offense to a higher level in an 82-73 defeat of East Carolina at Minges Coliseum. Adams tied his career high with 12 assists and scored 13 points in the regular-season finale for both teams. Teammates Josh Carlton (20 points), Tyler Polley (19 points) and Christian Vital (16 points) all benefited from having Adams back in the lineup as the Huskies (15-16, 6-12 American Athletic Conference) won on an opponent's home floor for the first time this season.

"Being at one school for four years, it's only right you get to put on the jersey to close out the end of the season," Adams said. "It just meant a lot to be out there with my brothers. It's probably my last time to be playing on a team where everyone genuinely cares for me and loves me. After this, it's probably going to be just business."

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UConn routs South Florida 00:01:28
UConn defeated South Florida 81-45 in the AAC semifinal game. The Huskies were lead by Collier and her strong shooting from beyond the arc.

Megan Walker scored 24 points and Napheesa Collier added 23 to lead No. 2 UConn to an 81-45 rout of South Florida on Sunday and move Huskies into their sixth straight American Athletic Conference championship game.

Crystal Dangerfield added 11 points and Christyn Williams chipped in 10 for Connecticut (30-2), which has never lost to an AAC opponent and has won 30 games for a 14th consecutive season.

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Collier leads UConn past ECU 00:01:32
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield discuss Collier's 37-point performance in their win over ECU

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Napheesa Collier scored a season-high 37 points as No. 2 UConn, playing without injured All-American Katie Lou Samuelson, pulled away from East Carolina 92-65 Saturday in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament.

UConn (29-2) beat the Pirates last month in Hartford by 63 points, a game in which Samuelson scored 31. She hurt her back in a game last week and the Huskies say she won't be back before the NCAA Tournament.

Minus Samuelson, UConn led just 24-22 after a quarter and 46-39 at halftime. Olivia Nelson-Ododa, who started in Samuelson's place, finished with 17 rebounds and five blocks.

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Jan 19, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Alterique Gilbert (3) shoots against the Tulane Green Wave in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Jan 19, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Alterique Gilbert (3) shoots against the Tulane Green Wave in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Alterique Gilbert's injury woes continue as UConn announced the redshirt sophomore point guard is dealing with a concussion and eye injury.

In Thursday's 78-71 loss to Temple, Gilbert left the game after colliding with a Temple player and stayed overnight at Hartford Hospital. 

According to the school, Gilbert will not participate in basketball activities for "an indefinite period of time."

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Katie Lou Samuelson gets injured 00:01:29
On Senior Day, Katie Lou Samuelson had to leave the first half against UConn after diving for a loose ball with an apparent back injury.

UConn women's basketball ruled senior Katie Lou Samuelson out for the AAC Tournament this weekend due to a back injury suffered last Saturday against Houston. The injury happened when Samuelson dove for a loose ball and collided with an opposing player. She tried to return in the second half, but quickly checked out.

In the Huskies' one game without Samuelson against USF, the offense struggled to get going for the first 30 minutes. UConn scored a season-low 25 points in the first half and needed a late push in the fourth quarter to get the win over the Bulls.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa got the start in Samuelson's place last game, and is a good bet to start in the tournament. Kyla Irwin also started two games back in December when Megan Walker missed a pair of contests with strep throat, but hasn't played much recently. Both would be options if head coach Geno Auriemma wants to replace Samuelson with another big, but if he decides to go small, Molly Bent or Mikayla Coombs could see their first career start.

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson
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Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) works for the ball against Temple Owls guard Quinton Rose (1) in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. Temple defeated UConn 78-71. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 7, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) works for the ball against Temple Owls guard Quinton Rose (1) in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. Temple defeated UConn 78-71. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Shizz Alston scored a career-high 34 points to lead Temple past UConn 78-71 on Thursday to keep the Owls hopes alive for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Alston hit 12 of his 14 shots from the floor and was 4 of 5 from behind the arc for the Owls (22-8, 12-5 American).

Quinton Rose added 20 points for Temple, which secured a bye in the first-round of next week's conference tournament.

Christian Vital had 26 points for the Huskies (14-16, 5-12), who lost for the first time this season at Gampel Pavilion. Josh Carlton added 21 points in a losing effort.

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UConn finishes regular season 00:00:35
The Huskies played their regular season finale against USF without senior Katie Lou Samuelson, it was a good test before the tournament.

Christyn Williams scored eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter and second-ranked UConn finished the game on a 9-0 run to pull away to a 57-47 regular season-ending victory over South Florida on Monday night.

The Huskies (28-2, 16-0), playing without injured star Katie Lou Samuelson, completed another perfect run through the American Athletic Conference, improving to 102-0 during the regular season against league opponents since the AAC was formed six seasons ago.

Samuelson did not play after hurting her back during last Saturday's 83-61 home victory over Houston. She accompanied the team to Florida, however the Huskies announced a little over an hour before the game that the two-time All-American would not be available.

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Mar 3, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Josh Carlton (25) works for the ball against South Florida Bulls forward Michael Durr (4) in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated USF 60-58. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 3, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies forward Josh Carlton (25) works for the ball against South Florida Bulls forward Michael Durr (4) in the second half at Gampel Pavilion. UConn defeated USF 60-58. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Josh Carlton scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds as UConn held off South Florida 60-58 on Sunday.

Alterique Gilbert added 15 for the Huskies (14-15, 5-11 American), who won despite failing to make a 3-point basket for the first time in more than nine years and 338 consecutive games.

David Collins had 17 points and Alexis Yetna added 15 for USF (18-11, 7-9 American), which had a chance to win or send the game into overtime.

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Points in the Paint: Samuelson 00:00:26
UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson dominates in the lane to give UConn a huge advantage in the paint against Houston, presented by Ring's End.

UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson dominates in the lane to give UConn a huge advantage in the paint against Houston, presented by Ring's End.

Watch the video above.

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Mar 2, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) is injured during a play against he Houston Cougars in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Mar 2, 2019; Storrs, CT, USA; UConn Huskies guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) is injured during a play against he Houston Cougars in the first half at Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

STORRS -- In the second half of the UConn women's basketball's game on Saturday against Houston, senior Katie Lou Samuelson went diving for a loose ball and collided with a opposing player. Samuelson immediately rolled over in pain and stayed down on the court as Gampel Pavilion went dead silent.

She eventually walked off the court under her own power before heading into the locker room with team trainer Janelle Francisco.

"I don't know exactly what happened," Samuelson said on the play that caused the injury. "I just got hit where my muscle just spasmed and tightened up right after."

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UConn wins on Senior Day, 83-61 00:02:20
UConn won 83-61 vs. Houston, but the bigger worry is the health of senior Katie Lou Samuelson. The Huskies are regular season AAC Champs.

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Napheesa Collier celebrated senior day by scoring 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead No. 2 UConn over Houston 83-61 on Saturday.

Fellow senior Katie Lou Samuelson scored 11 points for UConn (27-2, 15-0 American) before injuring her back diving for a loose ball in the second quarter. She returned to start the second half but struggled to run and was pulled after the first minute.

Jasmyne Harris, Octavia Barnes and Dorian Branch each had 14 points for Houston (15-13, 9-6), which opened a 17-7 lead and led by a point after the first quarter.

Tags: Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier
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Kobe has high praise for UConn 00:02:23
Kobe Bryant and his daughter are fans of UConn. He talks UConn's success, being beat 1-on-1 by his daughter, and what he's been up to.

Kobe Bryant and his 12-year-old daughter Gianna are both big fans of UConn's women's basketball program. Gianna has been especially fond of the team and hopes to play for the Huskies eventually, and it's the people involved that have drawn her to the program.

"I think the players, first and foremost. The camaraderie that they have with each other is something she kind of gravitated to," Kobe told SNY's Justine Ward at Saturday's game in Storrs. "And then Geno (Auriemma) and (Chris Dailey) and their leadership and the culture of the program, all the way on down to Rebecca (Lobo) and Diana (Taurasi) and Sue (Bird), so she loves the program."

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Kobe has high praise for UConn 00:02:23
Kobe Bryant and his daughter are fans of UConn. He talks UConn's success, being beat 1-on-1 by his daughter, and what he's been up to.

Kobe Bryant's daughter Gianna has her dad's trademark confidence.

During an interview with SNY Saturday afternoon at UConn's victory over Houston, the question was posed to Kobe if her 12-year-old daughter, whom he has been teaching basketball to, if she could beat him one-on-one.

He turned to his daughter to ask the same question.

"Yeah," she said smiling. Bryant told Reggie Miller in a video captured in October that Gianna is "hellbent" on going to UConn.

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Katie Lou Samuelson gets injured 00:01:29
On Senior Day, Katie Lou Samuelson had to leave the first half against UConn after diving for a loose ball with an apparent back injury.

Katie Lou Samuelson was being honored on Saturday as part of UConn's Senior Day, but the guard suffered a scare late in the first half. 

Samuelson went down in pain, grabbing her back and had to leave the game. 

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma told SNY's Justine Ward at halftime that Samuelson was experiencing back spasms. 

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UConn celebrates senior day 00:02:32
Senior duo Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier are obviously successful on the court, but their lasting impact on UConn is much more.

STORRS -- When looking back on the careers of UConn seniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, it'll be hard to separate one from the other. They both came to Storrs as freshmen in 2015 and were solid role players on the Huskies' 2016 national title team.

The next season, they won co-AAC Player of the Year and were both named First Team All-Americans.

Not only are Collier and Samuelson the only two classmates to eclipse the 2,000 point mark in program history, they're also the highest-scoring classmates.

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Mar 24, 2018; Albany , NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on against the Duke Blue Devils during the second half in the semifinals of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament at the Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)
Mar 24, 2018; Albany , NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma looks on against the Duke Blue Devils during the second half in the semifinals of the Albany regional of the women's basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament at the Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports (Rich Barnes)

STORRS -- After missing both of UConn's games last week due to an illness, Geno Auriemma was back at practice ahead of the Huskies' final home game against Houston on Saturday.

In his absence, associate head coach Chris Dailey took command of the team and improved her record as a head coach to 9-0. While Auriemma watched from his couch at home, he enjoyed getting to see the game from a different perspective.

"It's really a weird dynamic when you're watching on television because you're watching the game differently," he said. "You're not worried about 'Who do I have to sub in?' You're not talking to your coaches, you're not bitching about who didn't rebound who didn't screen. You're just watching the game and as you're watching the game, you almost start acting like a fan."

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Feb 28, 2019; Wichita, KS, USA; Wichita State Shockers guard Samajae Haynes-Jones (4) hits the game winning basket at the buzzer to beat the Connecticut Huskies at Charles Koch Arena. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports (Peter Aiken)
Feb 28, 2019; Wichita, KS, USA; Wichita State Shockers guard Samajae Haynes-Jones (4) hits the game winning basket at the buzzer to beat the Connecticut Huskies at Charles Koch Arena. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports (Peter Aiken)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Samajae Haynes-Jones scored 20 points and hit a jumper at the buzzer as Wichita State erased a 10-point deficit and beat Connecticut 65-63 on Thursday night.

UConn's Alterique Gilbert scored on back-to-back 3-pointers inside the final minute that tied the game at 63. Haynes-Jones took an inbounds pass with 6.4 seconds to go, dribbled the floor and sealed it with an off-balance shot from the corner.

Wichita State (14-13, 7-8 American Athletic Conference) rebounded from an 88-85 loss against Memphis on Saturday and has won two of its last three games. Coach Gregg Marshall also picked up his 300th career win with the Shockers. >> Read More

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Points in the Paint: UConn 00:00:22
UConn outscored Wichita State, 28-16, in the paint on their way to a dominating 84-47 victory, presented by Ring's End.

UConn outscored Wichita State 28-16 in the paint on their way to a dominating 84-47 victory, presented by Ring's End.

Watch the video above.

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UConn clinches 2019 AAC title 00:02:02
UConn clinches the 2019 AAC title behind a strong performance by senior Napheesa Collier.

Napheesa Collier scored 32 points, making 13 of 15 shots, and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead No. 2 UConn to an 84-47 victory over Wichita State on Tuesday night.

The Huskies were missing coach Geno Auriemma for the second straight game because of a stomach virus. The Hall of Famer issued a statement saying he expects to be back on the sideline Saturday for the Huskies final home game of the season against Houston.

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Points in the Paint: UConn 00:00:51
UConn outscored Tulsa early in the paint, which led them to another big victory, presented by Ring's End.

UConn outscored Tulsa early in the paint, which led them to another big victory, presented by Ring's End.

Watch the video above.

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UConn beats Tulsa, 68-49 00:02:27
Megan Walker leads UConn to a 68-49 win over Tulsa on Sunday afternoon, as the Huskies played without coach Geno Auriemma.

Megan Walker scored 21 points and No. 3 UConn, playing without Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, rolled to a 68-49 victory over Tulsa on Sunday.

Auriemma missed the game with an illness. He did not travel with the Huskies for the opener of a two-game trip, but hopes to return for Tuesday's game at Wichita State.

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