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Samuelson Injury Offers Opportunity for Others to Step Up

UConn has a number of talented options who can take advantage of more playing time, but losing Samuelson for the championship game is a big blow for the team offensively.

Ian Bethune

Despite being a freshman on a supremely talented UConn team, Katie Lou Samuelson made her way into the Huskies' starting lineup and had become a dependable scoring option by the time the NCAA Tournament started.

Unfortunately, the foot injury which she sustained in Sunday's Final Four matchup with Oregon State means the Huskies will be missing her shooting ability and size in the lineup for Tuesday's national championship.

Samuelson led the Huskies in scoring in six games this season, doing it for the first time fairly late, on February 20, and most recently with 22 points against Robert Morris in the NCAA Tournament opener. She was averaging 13.75 points per game in the four tournament contests before her injury against Oregon State, where she had seven points at the half.

"It's extremely disappointing to go through a season and make the adjustments she did, have a great second half to it, and kind of have it come to an abrupt end," Kia Nurse said on Monday. "I know this season has gone the way it has gone because she has contributed in so many ways."

Luckily, UConn will have some very skilled options to call on, namely Gabby Williams—who will probably be starting in Samuelson's place—and Napheesa Collier, who has also come on strong as the season progresses. Saniya Chong may also see some more time off of the bench.

"It gives us a little bit of a different look," Morgan Tuck said. "Gabby is not as much of a guard as Lou is, but I think she comes in and makes a lot of plays that we won't drop off at all."

Collier started in nine games but has mostly been used off the bench since the middle of the season. She's averaging 6.8 points per game and has been very solid across the NCAA Tournament, especially in the Texas game where she had nine points and four rebounds while going 4-of-4 from the field. She's definitely ready and motivated to make the best of this opportunity.

"I feel horrible that that's the reason," Collier said about her likely increase in playing time. "Now we have to pick up the slack and win this one for her."