UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) UConn’s dominance on the court has carried over to the postseason awards in the American Athletic Conference.
Sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier were named Friday as co-players of the year in voting by the league’s coaches.
The teammates and self-described best friends each averaged more than 20 points a game in leading the top-ranked Huskies to a 29-0 regular season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
”Because we are so close and because we came in together we kind of helped each other build up,” Collier said. ”It’s hard for other teams to guard us, because you can’t just shut down one person and the game’s over.”
The award has gone to a UConn player in each of the conference’s four seasons. Former Huskies star Breanna Stewart took home the first three.
UConn enters this weekend’s conference tournament having never lost an American Conference game, either in the regular season or the postseason game. It will shoot to extend the program’s NCAA record winning streak to 105 consecutive games on Saturday afternoon.
UConn junior Gabby Williams was named the American’s defensive player of the year. She, Collier and Samuelson were joined on the all-conference first team by UCF junior guard Aliyah Gregory, Temple guard Feyonda Fitzgerald and forwards Maria Jesperse and Kitja Laksa from South Florida.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma shared his fourth straight coach of the year honor with Temple’s Tonya Cardoza.
Cardoza, who was an assistant at UConn for 14 seasons under Auriemma, is in her ninth year as the Owls head coach. Her team finished the regular season 23-6 and 13-3 in the American, good enough for the second seed in the tournament.
”Tonya coaches like she loves her players,” Auriemma said. ”She operates like she loves her players. I remember those days.”
South Florida’s Tamara Henshaw, who averages just under 7 points a game, took home freshman of the year honors.