Katie Lou Samuelson sidelined as UConn prepares for title game

UConn looks to have Gabby Williams step up (1:54)

LaChina Robinson and Carolyn Peck break down who will be the x-factors in the 2016 Women's national championship game. (1:54)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Katie Lou Samuelson was elevating on a layup on the first scoring play of the national semifinals Sunday when she says she felt something.

When the UConn freshman came down, she still felt it. Through the entire first half, in fact, she felt it.

"It hurt, but I have never broken a bone before, so I didn't know that's what it was," Samuelson said Monday, about 15 hours after breaking a bone in her left foot that will keep her out of Tuesday's national championship game against Syracuse (ESPN/WatchESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET).

Samuelson was in a boot in the UConn locker room, talking to media about the injury that derailed her opportunity to join her Huskies teammates on the court for what most believe will be the program's 11th national title. Samuelson was not available in Sunday's postgame news conferences and spoke to the media for the first time Monday.

"I've been working hard this season, so it's kind of a bummer it has to end this way," said the rookie wing from California, who came in as the No. 1 recruit in the nation and started 22 games this season, including the semifinal. She averaged 11.1 points per game.

Samuelson said there is no timeline for her recovery or return to the court. Asked whether surgery might be necessary, Samuelson said she "didn't think" so.

"We will work all of that out when we get back [to UConn]," Samuelson said.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said that Samuelson told the team's trainer at halftime that she felt like she had a stone in her shoe and it needed to come out. It wasn't until she was examined in the locker room that it became clear something was wrong.

"I've never been through it where it happens on that stage," 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."

"I told her, 'This happened to me, but [later] we won a national championship and I was MVP of the Final Four.' It's all about how you respond." Shea Ralph on what she said to Katie Lou Samuelson

UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph was knocked out of the 1997 NCAA tournament by a knee injury, one of five that she suffered in her career.

"I do know what it's like, and I know there's nothing I can say to her to cheer her up," Ralph said Monday. "But I have the experience of understanding what if feels like. And I told her, 'This happened to me, but [later] we won a national championship and I was MVP of the Final Four.' It's all about how you respond."

Auriemma knows it's a tough situation for a young player.

"Lou is a pretty sensitive kid, kind of an emotional kid," Auriemma said. "... 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."

Said Samuelson: "Right now, we will just focus on this game. I know my team is going to go out there and play as hard as they can and I'll be out there to support them."