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Foot Injury Brings Samuelson's Season To An Unexpected Conclusion By Rich Elliott

POSTED April 05, 2016
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By Rich Elliott

INDIANAPOLIS – Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson had come so far this season for UConn. Her game had grown. Her mind had strengthened. She had become a difference maker.

But, in a cruel twist of fate, her season came to an abrupt end in the NCAA national semifinals Sunday when she broke the third metatarsal in her left foot elevating for a layup only 39 seconds into Sunday’s 80-51 win over Oregon State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

``I was excited to be out there, first Final Four,’’ Samuelson said. ``I was ready to go and I knew that I wanted to do what I could to help my teammates out. I didn’t want to let them down by coming out if there was a small injury, but it ended up being worse. It’s definitely tough. I’ve been working so hard this season it’s kind of a bummer that it’s got to end this way.’’

Samuelson said that she felt something in her foot pop as she elevated. Still, she played 17 of a possible 20 minutes in the first half – producing seven points, three rebounds and two assists – before learning the extent of her injury at halftime.

 It is unclear right now whether or not Samuelson will be forced to undergo surgery.

``I wasn’t really focusing on (the pain),’’ Samuelson said. ``I was trying to just focus on helping my team out and doing whatever I could because it’s the most important time of the year and I wasn’t going to try to let something get in the way of that. But I know that they are going to be ready to go and that I’m going to be out there supporting them as much as I can.’’

Sophomore forward Gabby Williams will make her 12th start of the season in place of Samuelson Tuesday against Syracuse in the national title game (8:30 p.m.; ESPN).

Williams, who started the season’s first seven games, is averaging 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals with three double-doubles in a starting role for the Huskies.

``I’m not going to be able to do the things that Katie Lou does, but I know the things I’m good at and the situation that we’re in they’re going to need me to do what I’m good at from that position,’’ Williams said.. ``So I’m not going to change anything about my game. I think everyone’s going to have to pitch in a little bit extra, but it’s still going to be a team effort.’’

A countless number of people have reached out to Samuelson. Her teammates and the UConn coaching staff have also been right by her side during this emotional time.

``I've never been through it where it happens on that stage,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ``We've been hit by injuries leading up to this moment in the Final Four that have derailed some great teams we've had, but it's never happened here between both games. So it's new for all of us. And Lou is a pretty sensitive kid, kind of an emotional kid. It's going to be difficult when this is all you think about when you're in high school, winning a national championship in college, and now here your team is and you can't play.

``One thing I did say to her (Sunday) night was while this will make you work even harder to make sure you get back so that you’ll get a chance to have your time, but right now it’s not your time. It’s somebody else’s time. It’s unfortunate, and it’s unfortunate that we're playing a team that we could use another big guard.’’

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