TAMPA, Fla. -- When the University of Connecticut women's basketball team watched Florida State's Imani Wright go up for a 3-point shot at the end of its Nov. 14 season opener, the Huskies weren't thinking about a perfect regular season. They were hoping to survive their first game.
What started up in Tallahassee will come to a close about a four-hour drive via I-10 East and I-75 South away Monday night. And what a long and interesting journey it's been for UConn these past few months.
"It's been crazy when you look back and you're already a game away from postseason play," UConn guard Katie Lou Samuelson said. "Now it seems like it went by so fast. It's up to us now to keep it going."
The top-ranked Huskies will look to complete their second straight and ninth unbeaten regular season overall Monday at 7 p.m. when they face South Florida in American Athletic Conference action at the Sun Dome.
UConn (28-0 overall, 15-0 AAC) has already wrapped up its fourth consecutive league regular season title and the No. 1 seed for the AAC tournament. The Huskies will open postseason play at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday at 2 p.m. against the survivor of Friday's 8-9 game.
"We've done a lot of real good things this year so far," Samuelson said. "It's been a long run and it's been pretty tough. We have a tough game Monday and we'll come out and play as hard as we can."
That UConn would be where it is now and riding a 103-game winning streak seemed unlikely when it visited Florida State on Nov. 14. The Huskies needed a blocked shot from Napheesa Collier with eight seconds left to preserve a one-point edge and then watched helplessly as a 3-point shot for the win by Wright headed for the rim.
But the rim is all the ball hit and UConn has gone on to make history.
How the Huskies' season would have gone had the ball gone in the basket we'll never know.
"We would have probably been pushed even harder," Samuelson said. "People were saying a lot about what we lost to graduation and what we didn't have and if we hadn't won that night, they would have said, 'We were right.' That would have motivated us. But I don't know what would have happened if we had lost."
UConn has gone on to beat nine more ranked teams, including a USF club on Jan. 10 that dropped out of the Associated Press top 25 last week.
The Huskies kept their perfect record intact Saturday as Samuelson had 29 points and Collier 19 in a 91-48 Senior Day win over Memphis at Gampel Pavilion.
"I don't think anybody would have told us with six seconds left at Florida State, 'Don't worry about it, you guys are going to go undefeated,' " UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I hope we can pull it off.
"If there is any kind of competitive spirit in South Florida's team, it's going to be a dog fight down there just like it always is. But if we could pull it off and go down there and win and these guys could finish the regular season undefeated, that would be a hell of a thing for this group. I don't think anybody would have predicted that."
In the teams' first meeting of the season, Saniya Chong led five Huskies in double figures with 20 points to go along with eight assists in the 102-37 rout of the Bulls at the XL Center in Hartford. UConn scored the first nine points and didn't look back, leading 65-19 at halftime. It was the worst loss in USF history, topping a 56-point defeat at the hands of Northwest Missouri 41 years ago.
But that game is history.
"They're not going to quit and hand us the game," said Samuelson, who needs eight points to become the 44th UConn player overall and sixth sophomore to reach 1,000. "They have the ability to give us a good game. We have to be ready to go because every team will give us their best."
USF (22-6, 11-4) defeated Tulsa 90-64 on Saturday as Kitija Laksa, the 2016 AAC Freshman of the Year, had 34 points on 13-for-14 shooting from the floor including 6-for-6 from behind the arc.
The Bulls have never beaten UConn (0-21) and have never beaten a top 10-ranked team.
"We're going down to South Florida to play a team that obviously didn't play that well when they came up here," Auriemma said. "I don't think we're 65 points better than them. We were 40-some points better than Tulane the first time, and look at the way that second game turned out. We're not going down there thinking the score at the beginning of the game will be 30-0."
UConn guard Kia Nurse will miss her fourth consecutive game Monday night at South Florida with a stress reaction in her right ankle. Auriemma said she has not been ruled out for the Huskies' first postseason game.
The Huskies' last loss in Florida came here in 2008 in the NCAA Final Four semifinals against Stanford at the St. Pete Times Forum (now known as Amalie Arena).