STORRS - Whether Katie Lou Samuelson can become the UConn women’s basketball team’s next national Player of the Year while dealing with her injured left ankle remains to be seen.
But it’s hard to find many players around the country who are playing better than the Huskies’ All-American guard is right now.
Samuelson gave UConn 40 minutes Monday night and scored 26 points as the top-ranked Huskies topped No. 4 Louisville 69-58 before an announced sellout crowd of 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion.
“She’s showing everyone she’s the rock of our team,” UConn All-American Gabby Williams said. “She’s proving to us we can rely on her for everything every game.
“To me the Player of the Year is someone who knows how to win, regardless of what her statistics are. They’re going to do whatever they have to for their team to win.”
UConn’s junior class of Samuelson and All-American Napheesa Collier is 99-1 in a Huskies uniform.
Collier finished with 14 points. Williams posted her third double-double in the last five games with 12 points and 15 rebounds. The senior forward also had six assists as she played the entire 40 minutes while dealing with a hip issue.
“Every time I go to take someone out I go, ‘Oh man, I don’t know if I want to do that. I’ll get them a breather a little bit later,’ ” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Then a little bit later comes and I’ll go, ‘Aww, maybe a little bit later.’ Then you look up and 40 minutes goes by.
“I keep saying we’ve got some players that are pretty tough. Gabby made some plays that are just impossible to describe. It’s the stuff she does is unlike anything a lot of people have seen. When she’s got it going like that ... And she and Lou worked really well together. They got a lot done.”
Samuelson also reached the 1,500-point plateau Monday night. She was 10-for-17 from the floor, including 4-for-9 from 3-point land.
“I’m happy I got the opportunity tonight,” Samuelson said. “But I’m more excited for how we played and how great a win it was.”
The win gives UConn (25-0) its 25th straight 25-win season, though it reached 30 in 22 of the previous 24 campaigns. It was also the Huskies’ 37th consecutive win over Atlantic Coast Conference opponents dating back to a loss at North Carolina on Jan. 15, 2007, and their 76th straight win at home.