women’s basketball Huskies pull away from USF

March 5, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. — Without two-time All-American Katie Lou Samuelson in the lineup, UConn’s offense was uncharacteristically bad Monday night.

The second-ranked Huskies lacked rhythm, flow, cohesion and, most importantly, points.

Ultimately, UConn still had enough answers to keep its unbeaten streak in American Athletic Conference play intact. The Huskies closed out their regular season with an ugly 57-47 victory over South Florida at the Yuengling Center.

The Huskies slogged their way through the better part of 40 minutes without Samuelson, who was held out after leaving Saturday’s win over Houston with back spasms. The Huskies separated themselves in the end, though, closing the game on a 9-0 run.

In doing so, UConn will head into the AAC Tournament this weekend with a record of 28-2, including 16-0 in conference play. The Huskies have won 117 straight AAC games.

Guard Crystal Dangerfield paced the Huskies with 17 points and nine assists and forward Napheesa Collier scored 16 points. Elisa Pinzan led USF with 15 points.

USF (16-14, 7-9) led late in the third quarter, however, a late 3 by Dangerfield put the Huskies up for good at 45-43.

USF led by as many as nine points in the first quarter and led 29-25 at the half. The Huskies shot only 32 percent (including 1-of-7 from 3) in the first half.

Megan Walker and Christyn Williams scored 10 points apiece for the Huskies.

Samuelson, who’s averaging 18.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists, traveled with the team but did not participate in warmups. Her absence, though, was more precautionary than anything, according to a team spokesperson.

The big picture

UConn was seeded No. 1 in the Albany (N.Y.) Regional in the second Top-16 NCAA reveal, which was released at halftime. Mississippi State, Oregon State and Miami were seeded second through fourth, respectively, in the Huskies’ bracket.

Baylor was the overall No. 1 seed, while Louisville and Notre Dame were also placed atop their respective regions.

Part of the plan

The game began with USF senior Laura Ferreira scoring an uncontested layup. It was reminiscent of the arranged basket that Nykesha Sales scored against Villanova in 1998 to break Kerry Bascom’s scoring record at UConn.

Ferreira, a preseason second-team All-AAC selection, has been out since Jan. 5 with an unspecified illness.

Among the best

Collier and Samuelson were among 10 players named semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy. UConn was the only school with multiple representatives on the list.

The four finalists will be announced March 22, with the winner revealed April 6.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour