UNCASVILLE — For freshman Katie Lou Samuelson, her first taste of the postseason for the No. 1 UConn Huskies (30-0) was a success.
Samuelson scored 16 points in UConn’s 92-51 win over East Carolina (13-19) in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Minutes are usually tough to come by for freshman during the postseason on Geno Auriemma coached teams, but Samuelson is in a different position. Samuelson solidified her place in the starting lineup as the season went on as UConn’s best three-point shooter.
As Samuelson’s play on the court has grown over the course of the year, so has her confidence.
“It’s a lot better than it was at the beginning of the season,” Samuelson said. “I definitely feel pretty good going into these games that I can help out my teammates and that when we get off to a slow start that we are going to be able to pick it up and I can do a lot of different things to help in that way. I think its pretty good right now.”
Samuelson once again had the touch from long-range; she made three three-pointers on six attempts today. The Huskies shot 6-for-15 from three-point range as a team.
Not only did Samuelson score effectively, she was able to impact the game in other ways. Samuelson finished with four assists and one steal.
“My shot is feeling really good right now but I think a big thing for me is not just limiting myself to shooting threes,” Samuelson said. “I think that when I’m getting inside and doing other things that really helps the team out a lot because it will open up the floor for other people.”
The freshman showed no signs of nerves making the start after receiving her award for making the conference All-Freshman team before the game. Samuelson made an impact on the game right away scoring eight of her 16 points in the first quarter.
Perhaps most importantly, Samuelson’s impact has not gone unnoticed by her teammates.
“Lou has done a great job for us. Obviously its not easy coming in here as a freshman and doing what she’s been doing,” sophomore guard Kia Nurse said. “She is working well offensively, she is adding another threat so people can’t sit and double on people and that is something that we need.”
As the Huskies advance in the tournament to play Tulane on Sunday, they will look to continue to count on Samuelson as the stakes continue to rise.
“She’s a pretty tough kid and she’s pretty competitive and it usually comes out when she’s pushed. The more she’s pushed, the more she responds,” Auriemma said. “I’m expecting her to play better tomorrow and play even better Monday. She’s used to big games.”
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women's basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.