HARTFORD – With the absence of Katie Lou Samuelson, who is expected to miss two weeks with a midfoot sprain, UConn has plenty of scoring to replace. Samuelson averaged 20.2 points per game last season including 3.2 3-pointers per game, and she was performing even better before her injury.
“When we have someone go down with the ability to shoot the ball like Lou does, it’s a matter of everyone stepping up in a little bit of their own way,” senior guard Kia Nurse said.
In the first full game without Samuelson, it was Nurse who stepped up in a big way.
Nurse led the Huskies in scoring during their 97-72 victory over No. 15 Maryland on Sunday afternoon, totaling 21 points over 30 minutes. Nurse scored 12 points on 4-5 shooting from the 3-point line in the first quarter, igniting UConn to take a commanding 32-11 lead after the opening period.
“It was great to see Kia step up there and knock in a bunch of threes, because without Lou, that’s a big part of our game that’s missing,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said.
Nurse finished the game 5-8 (62.5 percent) from three-point range. In the first two games of the season, Nurse attempted just three 3-pointers combined. It was clear that without Samuelson, the Huskies relied on Nurse to take (and make) many more threes.
“I think one of the things that I can do and that I’ve gotten better at since I’ve gotten to UConn is my 3-point shot,” Nurse said. “So I’m trying to use that as much as I can.”
Nurse is one of two seniors on the Huskies’ roster. Early on in the season, she and Gabby Williams are doing an impressive job leading the team, especially on the defensive end. Nurse and Williams are consistently getting steals and leading the fast break, injecting energy into the rest of the UConn lineup.
“Kia is that player,” UConn sophomore point guard Crystal Dangerfield said. “She hit her shots early and then she’s just got that grit. She was able to hold their best shooter down… I look to her for intensity and everything else. She’s a leader out there on the floor and we follow her.”
The UConn field hockey team also took on Maryland on Sunday afternoon, with that matchup determining the national champion. The Huskies defeated the Terrapins on the field as well as on the court, and the women’s basketball team was thrilled to learn of the crowning of the newest champions to the Husky family.
“I love when UConn wins,” Nurse said. “Super excited for them. The UConn athletic family itself is a tightknit family, and when they have success in the way that they’ve been doing it over the last couple years… Completely excited for them.”
The Huskies’ victory in field hockey completed the first undefeated season in program history. Auriemma, an expert on perfect seasons, voiced his support for head coach Nancy Stevens and her team.
“We’re a field hockey school,” Auriemma said. “We’re just trying to keep up with our field hockey team. I don’t know that anybody dominates their sport like field hockey does their sport. I mean, it’s every year.”
Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women's basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.