BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson left the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's locker room at Webster Bank Arena Sunday afternoon with an extra hop to her step.
The top-seeded Huskies' practice for Monday's NCAA tournament Bridgeport Regional final with No. 10 Oregon was about to begin but the toughest part of the sophomore guard's day was done.
Moments before, she had watched on a computer as her older sister, Karlie, kept her college career alive as Stanford rallied past Notre Dame 76-75 to win the Lexington (Kentucky) Regional and advance to the Final Four in Dallas.
"That was amazing," Katie Lou said with a smile.
UConn's media availability Sunday coincided with the start of Stanford's comeback from a 16-point third-quarter deficit. As Samuelson answered questions, she was glancing for updates from assistant coaches Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley.
"Right now I feel very sick to my stomach after watching," Samuelson said. "I get that nervous for every game she plays whether it's the last game or any game during the season."
Samuelson played in the Final Four a year ago. Watching her older sister trying to get there for a second time in her career was harder.
It's also been trying for their father, Jon, who was in Lexington for Stanford's Sweet 16 win over Texas Friday, then drove to Cincinnati and flew to Bradley International Airport Saturday morning to get to the Huskies' 86-71 win over UCLA here. He returned to Lexington in time for the Cardinal's comeback victory that included 15 points on five 3-pointers for Karlie.
"I was watching the game and they put the camera on Lou's dad, and I've never seen a happier guy in all my life," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "He has to be shot from all the plane miles he is doing back and forth.
"Stanford has been so steady all these years. When Lou came here it was not an easy thing for the Samuelsons. You have kids 3,000 miles apart. Trying to figure it all out and keeping your fingers crossed, 'Well, maybe they'll both play in the Final Four.' Now one of them is already there. Hopefully we can get there, as well, and the family can go crazy trying to figure out who to root for."
Jon Samuelson is set to return to Webster Bank Arena for his youngest daughter's game against Oregon.
"It's awesome," Katie Lou Samuelson said. "I really appreciated the visit. I talked to him for a couple of minutes before the (UCLA) game and he said, 'Don't worry about me. This is the most fun that I'm going to ever have. This won't happen again.' He's enjoying it and no matter how tired he is and how much sleep he doesn't get, he's happy to see both of us."
Earlier this month, Katie Lou was named the American Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Year alongside teammate Napheesa Collier. She was also the Most Outstanding Player of the AAC tournament after scoring a career high 40 points with the help of a NCAA record 10-for-10 effort from behind the arc in the final against South Florida.
Last week, both Katie Lou and Karlie were selected to their respective Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-Region teams, making them eligible for the 10-player WBCA All-America team that will be announced in Dallas. Karlie was also chosen to the Pac-12 all-conference team for the first time.
"Karlie works so hard and she's basically every coach's favorite player because of the things she does that won't show up in the stats or box score, or things that people look for when they vote for awards" Katie Lou Samuelson said. "For her to get that recognition is awesome and I'm so proud of her."
Among the coaches that Karlie is a favorite of is Katie Lou's. Karlie did have a scholarship offer from Auriemma before choosing Stanford late in her junior year of high school.
"I always loved Karlie," Auriemma said. "She was always one of my favorite players, one of my favorite kids when we were recruiting her. I'd bet you a week doesn't go by when I don't say, 'We've got the wrong Samuelson here.' They got the one who plays really hard, is really emotional, dives on loose balls, plays good defense, gets her hands up on shooters. We got the wrong one. I must say that at least once per week just to get Lou mad, and it works all the time."
Katie Lou Samuelson had 14 of her 15 points in the first half against UCLA while also grabbing six rebounds in 40 minutes Saturday. The downside was she had six turnovers, one more than her previous four games combined.
When she lined up for a 3-pointer, the chants of 'Lou' started.
"It's really exciting," Samuelson said, "and I really do enjoy it when they do yell 'Lou.' It sounds like everyone is booing and I think it's really funny. It's awesome that the fans are like that and they are some of the greatest fans in the country. It's been a great time."
What would be even better for her is to help the Huskies get to a record 10th straight Final Four and make it two Samuelsons in Dallas.
The Samuelson sisters, who played one year together at Edison High and another year together at Mater Dei High, have not played against each other. UConn and Stanford played home-and-home for six consecutive seasons before the series was not renewed for the 2015-16 campaign.
They would not meet in the NCAA tournament until the national championship game. Stanford will play Stockton (California) Regional representative South Carolina or Florida State in the Final Four semifinals Friday. If UConn gets past Oregon, it would also have to beat the Oklahoma City Regional representative -- either Baylor or Mississippi State -- to get to the final.