The UConn women’s basketball team will stay out west as it takes on the Nevada Wolf Pack Tuesday at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nevada in what will be a homecoming game for senior Gabby Williams.
The Wolf Pack (3-2) are coming off a victory in the Nugget Classic, in which they defeated the Huskies’ American Athletic Conference rival SMU 80-72 Sunday afternoon.
Senior forward Teige Zeller leads Nevada in scoring, averaging 13 points a game, but isn’t the best rebounder for a big, averaging just 4.4 boards per game. Senior guard Terilyn Moe, known as T Moe, also averages double digits in scoring for the Wolf Pack, as well as 2.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
The Huskies (5-0) enter Tuesday’s matchup having outscored opponents 431-294 in this season, an especially impressive feat given that star junior guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson has been out since midway through UConn’s game against California. Samuelson will likely be out for at least another game as she continues to recover from a midfoot sprain, with a small chance to play against Notre Dame next Sunday.
Without Samuelson, sixth man Azurá Stevens has stepped into the starting lineup and performed admirably. In the Huskies’ most recent game against Michigan State, Stevens scored 25 points and tallied 16 rebounds, dominating the Spartans on the way to a big UConn victory.
Another player who the Huskies have relied on in the absence of Samuelson is Williams.
Williams, who hails from nearby Sparks, Nevada, has been a force to be reckoned with in her time in Storrs, but has been especially dominant since her junior year when she became a full-time starter for the entire season.
Williams averaged 8.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game over her first two years, but significantly improved each of those numbers her junior year when she averaged 14.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. Williams’ play won her National Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as a spot as a First Team All-American.
The Nevada native said she was excited to play in her home state on the tail end of a long and challenging West Coast road trip that sees the Huskies play five games in 10 days, including three games against ranked opponents. Williams said as many as 40 family members and friends will be in attendance Tuesday night.
“(The game) is 15 minutes from my house, and Reno’s small. Reno-Sparks is small, so I’m more just trying to plan out how I’m going to see all my family and friends,” Williams said. “It’s not like people are going to have to drive far to see me…and I have old teammates that play for Nevada, so yeah, everybody knows everybody.”
Williams’ homecoming will take place Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network as UConn looks to stay undefeated.
Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball and football. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @realchrishanna.