women’s basketball Huskies rule AAC

March 12, 2019

UNCASVILLE — Over a three-day stretch, the UConn women reaffirmed what the rest of the country has known for years.

The Huskies are untouchable in the American Athletic Conference.

Even without guard Katie Lou Samuelson, the top-seeded Huskies rolled through the conference tournament while barely blinking an eye. They culminated their run to a sixth straight AAC title by blitzing UCF 66-45 Monday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

UCF was badly overmatched, just like East Carolina and South Florida were badly overmatched in the run up to an anticlimactic championship game. The Huskies left with their incredible unbeaten streak in AAC play (120-0) firmly intact.

Even the best team in UCF history (26-6) couldn’t create a little suspense. The Knights — who claimed the conference’s No. 2 seed thanks in large part to all-league guard Kay Kay Wright — didn’t stand a chance. Napheesa Collier outscored the Knights by herself in the first half (16-15) as the Huskies built a commanding 24-point lead.

Collier, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. The senior scored 85 points over the three games, breaking a record of 71 held by Samuelson.

Christyn Williams scored 13 points while Crystal Dangerfield contributed 12 points and six assists. Lawriell Wilson led UCF with 12 points.

The Huskies (31-2) did all their work without Samuelson, who hasn’t played since March 2 with a back injury. The two-time All-American is expected to return for the NCAA Tournament, which’ll tip off March 22 or 23.

UConn put forth another outstanding defensive effort, holding UCF to 34.6 shooting. Wright, the Knights’ leading scorer, was a non-factor — four points on 2-of-9 shooting.

In addition to Collier, Dangerfield, Williams and Megan Walker were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Huskies have won 24 conference tournament titles overall.

In the running: Dangerfield was named one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, joining Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon State’s Destiny Slocum, South Carolina’s Tyasha Harris and Syracuse’s Tiana Mangakahia.

Moriah Jefferson is the last Husky to win the award (2016), which recognizes the nation’s top point guard.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour