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Samuelson Shines Once Again in Blowout Win Over Tulane, 100-56

Katie Lou Samuelson stole the show as the Huskies earned their 93rd-consecutive win.

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

After nearly two months away, the UConn women hoops team returned to Gampel Pavilion, defeating the Tulane Green Wave, 100-56, for their 93rd consecutive victory.

Katie Lou Samuelson was happy to return home as she typically plays better under the dome. After a career-high 34 against Tulsa on Tuesday, Samuelson put together one of her most well-rounded performances of the season, finishing with 32 points, four rebounds, three assists, and seven steals.

“She makes it happen so quickly and so effortlessly at times,” said head coach Geno Auriemma on Samuelson. “The fact that she got involved in a whole bunch of things is good for her.”

The Huskies offensive strategy revolved around getting the ball inside to Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams. While they did not hold a clear height advantage, Williams’ athleticism and Collier’s low-post skills created mismatches that Tulane struggled to handle. The pair scored the first 13 Husky points.

Unfortunately, both Collier and Williams dealt with foul trouble, getting two apiece in the first quarter.

With the bench already shortened due to Crystal Dangerfield’s injury, Geno went to seldom-used Kyla Irwin early.

The 6-foot-2 freshman came to UConn with offensive prowess but has struggled thus far adjusting to the college game. Today, Irwin played well enough to show that she can capably play important minutes. Her improvement may not show up in the stat sheet, but it was certainly a step in the right direction for her.

Defensively, UConn gave the Green Wave fits with a full court trap after made baskets. Tulane’s ball-handlers were pinned along the sideline and tried to force passes up court only to have them picked off by the Huskies. When they were able to get into their half-court offense, the visitors were able to get the ball inside and draw fouls.

“When you get a game that’s called the way today was called, all of the sudden you’re forced to play differently and we can’t afford to be as aggressive as I like us to be,” said Auriemma. “If got the wrong guys going to the bench with fouls, we’re not a very good team.”

Tulane kept the game competitive for most of the first half, something most conference foes struggle to do against UConn. The Green Wave were within single-digits with less than five minutes to go in the half before Katie Lou Samuelson arrived.

After going scoreless in the first quarter, Samuelson opened the second quarter with a layup. Shortly after, the sophomore hit a three and really started feeling it. The Huskies went on a 10-2 run and continued to distance themselves from the Green Wave.

“I wasn’t really concerned with the misses or the fact that I didn’t have points,” said Samuelson on her first quarter. “I just felt like I wasn’t contributing to the team so I just wanted to pick it up in that second quarter.

“I think last year it would’ve freaked me out a lot more than this year.”

In the third quarter, Gabby Williams was elbowed in the face while playing defense and went to the floor clutching her face. She was laughing as she went off the court but still went to the locker room. Fortunately, she returned shortly after and checked back into the game at the start of the fourth quarter.

Samuelson was dominant in the third quarter, and could not be stopped on either end of the court, taking the ball away from the Green Wave while hitting just about everything on offense. It was a great showcase of her development since last season when she was mostly a three-point shooter.

When the game eventually got away from the Green Wave, they played the Huskies tougher than most teams. A major part of that was guard Megan Kolby, who scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting. She was the game’s second-leading scorer and the only Tulane player in double-figures.

Despite foul trouble limiting her to 21 minutes, Napheesa Collier finished with 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Gabby Williams had 13 points to go with five rebounds, six assists, and three steals.

The Huskies turn their attention to Tuesday, where they will travel to face East Carolina. Tip off is at 7 p.m. on SNY and ESPN3.

Geno Auriemma Postgame:

Kia Nurse, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier Postgame: