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Connecticut guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) defends against Louisville guard Asia Durr (25) as Connecticut guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) runs toward the pair during the second half of a regional championship final in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Albany, N.Y.Kathy Willens/The Associated Press

Katie Lou Samuelson put UConn on her injured back and shot the Huskies into a record 12th straight Final Four.

Samuelson scored 29 points and second-seeded UConn held off No. 1 Louisville 80-73 on Sunday in the Albany Regional Final.

“I wanted to keep my career going,” Samuelson said. “I had to step up. They were really making it hard for us, so I had to do what I could.”

The Huskies (35-2) have won six national championships and had a 111-game winning streak during their remarkable Final Four run. They will be looking to try and reach the title game for the first time in three years after they have lost on last-second shots in the past two national semi-finals.

UConn, which made 14 3-pointers in the game, nearly blew an 11-point lead in the final 1:47 of the game.

Louisville scored 10 of 11 points to cut its deficit to 75-73 with 26.6 seconds left. Samuelson then hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game.

Asia Durr was fouled a few seconds later, but the Cardinals’ senior leader missed both free throws. Napheesa Collier was fouled after the Cardinals missed a chance on an offensive rebound. She stepped up and sank both free throws on the other end to make it 79-73.

As the buzzer sounded, the Huskies all mobbed Samuelson at the foul line, celebrating another trip to the Final Four.

“It’s amazing just to be part of this program, just to wear this name on our chest every day,” Samuelson said. “You know you’re part of something special. And they’ve created something amazing here. And for us we just want to be part of that and keep it going as long as we can.”

Louisville (32-4) was looking to become only the second team to beat UConn twice in a season in the past decade, joining fellow ACC school Notre Dame, which did it in 2012 and 2013. The Huskies could face the Irish in the Final Four in Tampa if Notre Dame beats Stanford in the Chicago Regional final on Monday night.

UConn was not a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2006. While much was made of that leading up to this game, the only real differences, as coach Geno Auriemma put it, was that his team would wear the road blues and would be sitting on a different bench. The Huskies band also played the national anthem pregame. It certainly wasn’t a road game though, with a very pro UConn crowd of 9,204 with the Albany site a two-hour drive from Connecticut.

Oregon reaches first women’s Final Four, tops Missississippi State

Off to Oregon’s first appearance in the Final Four, guard Sabrina Ionescu set the theme for the second-seeded Ducks.

“All I gotta say is we’re not done yet,” Ionescu said after she had 31 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in Oregon’s 88-84 victory Sunday over top-seeded Mississippi State.

Satou Sabally had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks (33-4), who head to Tampa, Fla., to face the winner of Monday’s game between top overall seed Baylor and Iowa.

At the final buzzer, Ionescu jumped into teammate Ruthy Hebard’s arms and coach Kelly Graves flashed an “O” with his hands to the crowd. The Ducks had been eliminated in the Elite Eight the past two seasons.

As Ionescu cut down a piece of the net, fans at the Moda Center chanted “One more year!” at the junior guard, who has been dogged by rumours she may skip her final year to go pro.

Teaira McCowan had 19 points and 15 rebounds in her final game for the Bulldogs (33-3), who had played in the NCAA title game for the past two seasons. Two of Mississippi State’s losses this season were to Oregon, and the first one was a true road game in Eugene.

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