The UConn women’s basketball team ran through the regular season winning all 29 games, the American Conference Tournament title and the first four NCAA tournament games before falling in the national semifinals to the Mississippi State Bulldogs 66-64 in overtime. Looking back at the 36-1 season, here is a look at some of the best performances from the season.
Collective team performance: While the other two games against USF will make appearances later, the first matchup against the Bulls takes the cake for the best UConn collective team performance. The Huskies won 102-37 over the then No. 20 ranked USF, holding the Bulls to single digits in the first and third quarter. Starting the game on a 9-0 run and led by 22 points at the end of the first, grabbing a 40-point lead just 16 minutes into the game.
UConn scored 30 points in the first and 35 in the second. They had 11 steals, seven blocks and 31 assists. They shot 60.3 percent as a team and six players scored in double digits, including senior Saniya Chong and redshirt junior Natalie Butler.
Performance off the bench: Freshman Crystal Dangerfield seemed to step up in the games that the Huskies needed the most. This was evident in her second ever game against No. 2 Baylor on Nov. 17. In the 72-61 home win, Dangerfield led UConn with 19 points on 8-14 from the field, while adding a second best five assists in 30 minutes. Honorable mention—Dangerfield against USF on Feb. 27, 2017.
Individual performance in conference play: Being stuck on the couch, watching UConn travel to East Carolina on Jan. 24, was not on my bucket list, but it turned out to be a game for the ages when junior Gabby Williams recorded the fifth triple-double in UConn women’s history in the Huskies 91-44 victory. In the dominating win, Williams finished with 16 points on 7-10 shooting, 16 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds and 10 assists. Honorable mention—Collier against Florida State on Nov. 14, 2016 and Collier against USF on Feb. 27, 2017.
Individual performance in NCAA tournament: Following the demolition of No. 16 seed Albany, where junior Kia Nurse had 24 points and hit six 3-pointers, Nurse tied an NCAA tournament record with nine 3-pointers in the 30-point victory over No. 8 seed Syracuse. Nurse went 10-13 from the field in the 94-64 win and she went on to break the tournament record making 22 3-pointers in just five tournament games. Honorable mention—Williams against Miss. St in Final Four and Collier in Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
Overall individual performance: In a year when UConn trounced some teams by 50 and 60 points, it is hard to put one performance over others, as Williams shined in her triple-double and sophomore Napheesa Collier dominated by breaking her career high over and over again, finishing the regular season with 39 points and 12 rebounds at USF. For the best individual performance this season, I picked sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson’s career-high night in the American Conference Tournament Finals against USF.
With the stakes at their highest, Samuelson went 10-10 from the 3-point line on her way to 40 points and another conference tournament title. Samuelson set a Division I record for consecutive 3-pointers in a game and also set the tournament’s single-game scoring mark. I have never seen a better performance by a player in person, as Samuelson put on a shooting clinic and the second the ball left her hand, everyone knew it was going in.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.