UNCASVILLE— It was the best of times and it was the worst of times for sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson in the 22-point victory over UCF in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament, scoring six points in both of the first two quarters but going scoreless in the second half. The American’s Co-Player of the was 3-8 from deep on the day, now with 100 on the season, becoming the fourth player in UConn history to notch 100 or more 3-pointers in a single season.
“It’s pretty cool I’ve been shooting them since I was little and it’s kind of what I do,” Samuelson said about hitting her 100th three of the season. “It is pretty special to do that in one season.”
The sharpshooter Samuelson was sitting at 97 3-pointers coming into the semifinal matchup, and was able to hit her 100th three of the season with 5:58 to go in the second quarter. With the made field goal she passed Renee Montgomery for fourth place in UConn history, and is now trailing No.1 Wendy Davis, by seven, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, in second and third. In the 2012-2013 season Mosqueda-Lewis had 118 threes on 240 attempts and she broke her own record in the 2014-2015 season, when she made 121 threes on 248 attempts.
Samuelson is averaging 3.22 made 3-pointers per game, so the Huskies would need to reach the NCAA tournament finals in order to give her a chance of breaking the record. The UConn record for attempted threes is 260, another record the sophomore is on pace to break, sitting currently at 241 attempts on 41.4 percent shooting.
In the opening quarter, Samuelson was able to connect on her opening two attempts from deep but was held to six points on 2-3 shooting in the first 10 minutes. In the second, she was 1-4 from the field and 3-3 from the line, scoring all six points within a 90-second span. At the end of the half she was 3-7 from the field and 3-6 from the line with two rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
Things changed for her in the second as she was held without a made field goal and was outscored by senior Tierney Lawlor. After she was charged with her third foul with 8:36 to go in the third, she was unable to find her rhythm from the field. In the second half, she was 0-2 from behind the arc and 0-3 from the field. But she was able to grab three rebounds and dish out two assists in 15 minutes of action.
“I was trying to just focus on playing all around and trying to help in any way I can, getting rebounds or just playing solid defense,” Samuelson commented about her second half performance. “In the second half I was just trying to do whatever I could do to help the team.”
After a couple of disappointing performances at the end of the season, Samuelson shined in the quarterfinals of the American tournament. She was 6-12 from the field and 4-9 from behind the arc for 19 points. Although things are not clicking on the offense end, her defense performance has been stellar at the close of the season with nine steals in the last five games, despite having none today. She has also had back to back five rebound games for the first time since Jan. 24 and her most assists since senior day on Feb. 25.
With the championship game tomorrow and March Madness around the corner, the Huskies will need Samuelson to be at her best if they want to win another National Championship. As a freshman in the American Athletic Conference Tournament last year she had 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes; she and the Huskies will look to repeat as champions in the AAC for the fourth straight year.
“We have to be mentally ready, be sharp every single day and ready to go,” commented Samuelson, before going on to say: “We haven’t played three games in a row in three days so it definitely is a challenge both mentally and physically but being able to stay focused and knowing it is the last game before the actual NCAA tournament starts we have to make sure everything is cleaned up and ready to go.”
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.