– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
ALBANY, N.Y. — A number of people made the connection that the Connecticut Huskies’ chances to end their two-year “drought” of not winning a national championship hinged on the health of senior guard Katie Lou Samuelson, who has been slowed down for a good portion of the latter part of the season with a back injury. If Sunday’s performance portends what will occur in Tampa, Connecticut may very well reclaim its perch atop the women’s college basketball world.
Samuelson scored 29 points, including making seven three-pointers, as the second-seeded Huskies took down the No. 1 seed in the Albany Regional, the Louisville Cardinals, 80-73 to advance to their 12th consecutive Final Four.
At this time two weeks ago, Samuelson’s back issues were so bad that she missed the entirety of the American Athletic Conference Tournament to rest up for the Big Dance. Two days ago, she was a non-factor offensively for three quarters as UCLA built a five-point lead late in the third quarter in hopes of pulling off a major stunner. From the fourth quarter of the game against the Bruins onward, Samuelson has been the best player on the court for the Huskies, capped off by her performance against the team that handed Connecticut one of its two losses on the season on Jan. 31 in the Derby City.
“She made some shots today that only really special players make at this particular time,” Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma said. “This is when players separate themselves in these games.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday’s action, with all photos taken by ALOST senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently 31 pictures in total.