UNCASVILLE, Conn. – After leading the No. 1 UConn women’s basketball program to its 23rd regular season conference title and ninth perfect regular season, Husky head coach Geno Auriemma has been deemed Co-Coach of the year alongside Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza, as announced by the league Friday. In addition, sophomores Napheesa Collier (O’Fallon, Mo.) and Katie Lou Samuelson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) share the crown as Co-Players of the Year.
Auriemma earned his fourth-consecutive and 14th overall conference Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Huskies to another perfect 29-0 overall record this season. The Huskies remain undefeated all-time in American Athletic Conference play after delivering a spotless 16-0 record and outscoring AAC opponents this season by an average of 40.5 points per game. Under Auriemma’s guidance, the Huskies surpassed their previous NCAA record of 90-conseutive games won and now own the two longest win streaks in college basketball history.
In his 32-year tenure, Auriemma has transformed a program with only one winning season, to its current state, which includes 11 national titles, 17 Final Fours, six perfect seasons and 44 conference titles. Auriemma was named a 2017 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the year national semifinalist, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Friday. He has received said honor seven times in his coaching career, most recently in 2015-16.
Collier and Samuelson share Player of the Year honors for the first time in UConn history. The sophomore duo joins the group of 12 previous Huskies who have received the recognition. This marks the fourth-straight year that a Husky has earned Player of the Year after former UConn standout Breanna Stewart brought home the title the last three consecutive seasons. Collier and Samuelson were both unanimous selections to the All-Conference First Team as they both currently average over 20 points a game.
At 20.7 points per game, Samuelson leads the team and the league in scoring. Her 93 three-point field goals made are the most of any player in the conference and the seventh most in the nation. A three-time AAC Player of the Week honoree, Samuelson scored 94 points over a three-game span this season, including back-to-back 30-plus performances. She boasted a career-high 34 points on the road at Tulsa on Jan. 17, shooting 13-18 from the floor and a remarkable 7-12 from three-point range. Samuelson was the third Husky this season to eclipse the 1,000-career-point mark after she recorded 16 points in the regular season finale at USF.
Collier is second on the team and in the league in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per contest. She leads the Huskies in rebounds (260) and blocks (56) and is second in steals (52). Her 68.6 field-goal percentage is the second-best percentage in the nation and the top overall in the conference. In UConn’s regular season finale at USF, Collier topped her career-high from less than a week prior, accumulating 39 points on 15-19 shooting. The 39 points marked the fourth-highest single-game total ever scored by a Husky and was only seven-points shy of Nykesha Sales’ school record.
The Huskies will kick off the postseason on Saturday, March 4 when they face the winner of Memphis/Tulsa in the quarterfinals of the 2017 American Athletic Conference Championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.
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