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UConn women’s basketball Senior Day was star-packed affair

March 3, 2019

STORRS — A who’s who of basketball legends packed Gampel Pavilion Saturday, from Geno Auriemma to Kobe Bryant to Rebecca Lobo. And then there’s Ray Allen, who was right next door.

The main attraction, though, were a pair of current Huskies stars: Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson.

UConn downed Houston 83-61 on Senior Day, despite Samuelson leaving early with an injury.

The Huskies improved to 27-2, including 15-0 in American Athletic Conference play.

Here’s five takeaways on the win:

One last hurrah: Napheesa Collier left the floor with 38 seconds left to a standing ovation from a sell-out crowd that included Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant. It was a tip of the cap to a sensational career.

Collier now sits alone in fifth — 61 points behind teammate Katie Lou Samuelson — on the school’s all-time scoring list, with 2,198 points. The senior passed greats Kerry Bascom, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Nykesha Sales with her 29-point effort against Houston. She’s also fifth in rebounds (1,110).

The only other Huskies to finish top-5 in both categories? Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Breanna Stewart. That’s Mount Rushmore-type company.

Camara chips in: Beset by a series of knee problems, Batouly Camara had played double-digit minutes just three times since transferring from Kentucky.

Camara had been relegated to mainly mop-up duty this season — that is, until Saturday. The junior delivered 13 high-energy minutes off the bench, notching four rebounds and a pair of blocks.

The Huskies’ much-maligned bench — particularly Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Mikayla Coombs — has provided some hope of late.

Troubles from deep: With Samuelson, a career 41-percent shooter from 3, limited to 17 minutes because of back spasms, the Huskies’ struggles from beyond the arc were likely not a coincidence. They shot a woeful 2-for-16 on 3-point attempts (12.5) — their third-worst percentage this season.

But, as quality teams do, the Huskies found other ways to score. They made it to the free-throw line a season-high 31 times, hitting 23 attempts.

What a run: Collier and Samuelson improved to a remarkable 137-4 during their UConn careers.

The 10 previous senior classes all won at least 143 games. Barring a loss, this year’s duo would hit that mark in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Looking ahead: UCF (No. 2) and Cincinnati (N0. 3) both won Saturday to lock up first-round byes for next week’s American Athletic Conference tournament in Uncasville. Despite its loss to UConn, Houston clinched the fourth and final bye.

UConn, the conference’s No. 1 seed, will play the winner of the No. 8-9 game on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Seedings will be finalized after the regular season concludes on Monday.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour

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