There must be something in the water at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. When Katie Lou Samuelson, an alumna of the school, hit her third three of the game against Seton Hall, she moved into second place on UConn’s all-time made 3-pointers list. Samuelson is now just 78 threes behind the Huskies’ all-time leader, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who also went to Mater Dei.
As for who Samuelson passed to get to second place? That would be Diana Taurasi, who grew up roughly 45 minutes away from Mater Dei in Chino, California.
“That’s what they do out there, stand out there and shoot. I don’t think any of the three of them came here with the idea of wanting to guard somebody so they shot the ball,” head coach Geno Auriemma joked after the game.
While all three were from the same part of California and could hit shots from beyond the arc, Auriemma noted just how different they all are from each other.
“All three of them are so different as people, as players, everything,” he said. “There’s nothing the same about any of the three of them other than they come from within 25-30 miles of each other. It’s not bad.”
However against Seton Hall, Samuelson’s 3-point shooting didn’t stand out besides the fact that she hit enough to move past Taurasi. Instead, it was her rebounding that shined.
The senior finished with a career-high 16 rebounds — the only time she’s ever hit double-digit rebounds in a game. Her previous high was nine. With Megan Walker (5.9 rebounds per game) out with strep throat, there were plenty of rebounds up for grabs and Samuelson knew she needed to fill the void.
“Especially without Megan there I felt I needed to step up more. A lot of it is just making sure my man doesn’t get the ball so I don’t get yelled at in film,” Samuelson said. “If I can rebound like that, we’re going to be pretty successful.”
It’s not as if Samuelson just grabs whatever comes to her on the court, either. She goes after the ball on misses and battles it out down low.
“She had a couple the last couple games that were the kind of rebounds you have to go get and you have to be willing to fight people off for,” Auriemma said. “That’s a great sign because she’s a smart player. She knows where she has to be, how to get there. I just think it’s the next evolution that you have to get to as a player.”
When Samuelson arrived to UConn as a freshman, she was mostly a 3-point threat and nothing more. Now, she’s one of the best all-around players in the country — on top of being a great 3-point shooter.
“It’s obvious that Lou’s really involved in the game, she’s involved in so many plays,” Auriemma said. “She’s really enjoying this role that she has as a rebounder and someone who’s getting us out on the break and she’s just making herself into a really complete player little by little, its evolved. There’s still some things, there always will be. But she’s in a really good place right now.”