The No. 2 UConn women’s basketball team defeated Houston 83-61 Saturday afternoon on a day that did not go according to plan.
Senior Katie Lou Samuelson went down in the second quarter after being caught up with some Houston defenders going for a loose ball. Samuelson was able to walk off the court herself, but went into the locker room shortly after.
Samuelson started the second half, but was subbed out less than two minutes in after clearly wincing in pain. She spectated the rest of the game.
Head coach Geno Auriemma said Samuelson’s availability for Monday night’s game against USF depended on how she felt in the coming days.
“Initially…she was just having some muscle spasms and it wasn’t anything that was gonna require anything more than just some treatment. So, we’ll see how she responds to it,” Auriemma said.
Before tipoff, Samuelson and fellow senior Napheesa Collier were honored for their careers at UConn. The duo holds the program record for the highest scoring pair of classmates above Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson. Both Collier and Samuelson had their names hung in the Huskies of Honor during the pregame ceremony. When their names and numbers were being unveiled, however, the black tarps got stuck and it was several minutes before their names were actually revealed.
“They’ve been huge from day one,” junior Crystal Dangerfield said of the senior class. “I wasn’t around for their freshman year but sophomore year to now they’ve just been a great shoulder to lean on for everybody here, especially myself. They’ve brought me through the mud really.”
Even five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant attended the game with his daughter to see the senior day festivities in person.
Once the game got underway, it was Houston that pulled out in front immediately. The Cougars made five 3-pointers in the first quarter alone and led by 10 with over five minutes left in the first. At the end of the first UConn trailed 23-22.
“Our offense I think was what bothered me the first five minutes it wasn’t so much you know defensively,” Auriemma said. “I thought our offense was really bad in the first five or six minutes. So I think once we got some of that ironed out then things started to kind of right themselves.”
The Huskies recovered in the second quarter despite losing Samuelson to injury. They held Houston to just seven points and ended the quarter up 40-30.
During halftime UConn great Rebecca Lobo was honored and became the first UConn player ever to have a number retired and hung in the rafters of Gampel Pavilion. The only criteria for the honor is to be selected to enter the Hall of Fame. Lobo was a member of the 2017 class for the Hall of Fame.
“She’s a Hall-of-Famer in so many ways,” Auriemma said. “As much a Hall-of-Famer as a person for what she did for UConn women’s basketball and the game of basketball around the country at the perfect time.”
The Huskies maintained their lead throughout the second half. Freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa and redshirt junior Batouly Camara played more minutes than normal for UConn after Samuelson returned to the bench.
Next up, the Huskies will head to USF to play their final regular season game on Monday night. The game will begin at 7 p.m. and 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.