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."
The Huskies won that game 91-81. The 10-point margin of victory was the narrowest the two seniors ever experienced over the next four years at Gampel Pavilion, where they have built a record of 34-0 entering their final game.
If Collier and Samuelson can lead UConn past Buffalo on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the seniors will have gone through their entire collegiate career without a single loss at home -- a 59-0 record -- and will have never even lost a game in the state of Connecticut. While those two players have only lost four games in their college career, nobody has even come close to beating them at home. The narrowest margin of victory is nine points and they have defeated teams by an average of 40 points at Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center combined.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Huskies have beat teams by over 80 points at each venue -- a 124-43 drubbing of Wichita State at the XL Center and a 140-52 domination of Saint Francis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament -- both of which happened last season.
So what makes UConn so difficult to beat at home? Well, according to Crystal Dangerfield, it starts before the opposing team even takes the court.
"You come in, look up see the banners, walking through the hallways you see everything there too," she said.
Then if the prospect of playing one of the top teams in the country isn't daunting enough, there are thousands of rabid fans screaming to make life miserable for the visitors.
"It helps a lot to get the crowd into (it) and you really do feed off of it and use it as fuel just to have them there," Collier said.
Now, they have one team left in the way of a spotless career home record: No. 10 seed Buffalo, which is looking to make some history of its own.
"We respect them, without a doubt," Buffalo star Cierra Dillard said. "They have a legendary coach, legendary kids and they've had that resume throughout the years, and what they've done throughout women's basketball is very, very respectable. But we fear no one. We're very confident in what we do. We're focused on Buffalo and we're excited for the game tomorrow. It's just a game of basketball. They have to put the ball in the hole and we have to put the ball in the hole. We just have to see who does it more."
Samuelson wants to win not only to extend her career and continue the pursuit of the program's 12th national title, but also to give the fans she's played in front of a proper farewell.
"You don't understand the crowd and how loud Gampel can get until you're actually playing here and a part of it," she said. "When you're watching it, you don't actually see the fans, you don't see how much UConn fans care and how much time they put into our program."