The UConn women’s basketball team has seen quite a few dynamic duos in its’ days. Seniors Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier were just freshmen when then-seniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson led the Huskies to their fourth straight national championship and became the program’s highest scoring duo.
On Monday night, UConn defeated No. 11 South Carolina 97-79, and in the process, Samuelson and Collier passed Jefferson and Stewart as the highest scoring UConn duo in UConn history. The two combined for 60 points.
“It does feel good to do it with Lou,” Collier said after the game. “We’ve been through all four years here together and we’ve seen each other grow and I’ve seen how she’s progressed as a player and as a person and so to go through this with her and see how we’ve done is pretty cool.”
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Samuelson emphasized that getting to play with Stewart and Jefferson as a freshman makes it even sweeter that her and Collier passed the milestone.
“We were both freshmen to see them do that and it’s pretty awesome actually,” Samuelson said. “For us coming in together and going through the stages together as classmates it definitely makes it pretty special to see us both accomplish things.”
Both Collier and Samuelson have been key players for the Huskies this season with Samuelson expanding her skills beyond her patented 3-point shot and Collier consistently accumulating double-doubles. In the win against the Gamecocks, Collier earned her 13th double-double of the season.
Head coach Geno Auriemma said that it’s hard to find a player like Collier anywhere else in the country.
“There can’t be anywhere where [there’s] a player that’s playing better or does more for their team than Napheesa Collier does,” Auriemma said. “I don’t see that that’s possible. Now granted, I haven’t seen every game, every week, in every conference, but there’s something about her that’s just rare. You just don’t see it.”
Auriemma also said that Collier’s ability to remain focused and not get rattled makes her an ideal player.
“She has the perfect temperament for a great player,” Auriemma said. “She’s never in a hurry, no one gets her out of her rhythm or out of her tempo and she’s going to shoot the ball when she’s ready to shoot it. Nobody’s going to make her shoot a shot she doesn’t want to shoot.”
In the Huskies’ defeat of South Carolina, Collier scored 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while Samuelson scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Both seniors have previously been named AP First Team All-Americans with Samuelson earning the accolade twice. On Monday, Samuelson and Collier along with teammate Crystal Dangerfield were named to the 30-player Naismith Trophy Midseason Team. The Naismith Trophy is awarded to the top collegiate basketball player in a season.
The Huskies are now ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25 Poll and are 21-2 overall and 10-0 in conference play. They were named the No. 2 seed in the Albany region for the NCAA tournament on Monday night.
Next up, the Huskies will head to Orlando to play UCF on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.