Katie Samuelson had a game-high 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, as second-seeded Connecticut held off a late rally by top-seed Louisville to seal an 80-73 victory in the Albany (N.Y.) Region final on Sunday.
The Huskies (35-2) will play in their 12th consecutive Final Four while Louisville ends its season at 32-4. UConn will face the winner of the Chicago Region final between Stanford and Notre Dame in the Final Four on Friday at Tampa, Fla.
Samuelson had 10 of her points in the fourth quarter. She made 2 of 3 from 3-point range in the quarter and 7 of 12 overall from long distance.
Asia Durr, who had 18 of her 21 points in the second half for Louisville, made two free throws with 36 seconds left to cut the lead to 75-71. Durr also had nine rebounds.
After a steal by Louisville’s Dana Evans, Arica Carter made a layup with 28 seconds left to cut the lead to 75-73.
Samuelson, an 87 percent free throw shooter, made two free throws with 23 seconds left to put UConn ahead 77-73.
Durr, an 83 percent shooter at the line, missed two free throws with 20 seconds left after Napheesa Collier fouled her on a shot attempt in the lane. Collier then made two free throws with 17 seconds left, and after a Louisville turnover, a free throw by Megan Walker with 14 seconds left made it a three-possession game.
Christyn Williams had seven of her 16 points in the fourth quarter for UConn, which has won 17 straight games. The Huskies’ last loss was at Louisville on Jan. 31.
Walker added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Collier had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Huskies.
UConn, which took as big as a 10-point lead in the first half, went into halftime with a 41-34 lead thanks to the Huskies’ 3-point shooting. They made 9 of 16 shots (56.3 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half. Walker made 4 of 5 shots from that range and led all scorers at halftime with 12 points.
Durr, who entered the game averaging 21.2 points a game, had only three points in the first half on 1-of-10 shooting from the field, including 0 of 2 from beyond the arc.
Six unanswered points by Louisville in the last 1:09 of the third quarter cut UConn’s lead to 57-53. The last two baskets by Durr and Evans were on fast-break situations off steals.
Consecutive shots by Durr cut UConn’s lead to 64-61 with 5:30 left in regulation. Durr was in a stretch in which she made 5 of 6 shots from the field at that point.
—Field Level Media