STORRS – There aren’t enough words to describe the impact of Gabby Williams on the UConn women’s basketball team.
Saturday afternoon, every single one of Williams’ unique abilities was on display as she shined brightest in the Huskies’ 98-45 win over the Tulane Green Wave at Gampel Pavilion.
Williams, a 5-foot-11 senior forward from Sparks, Nevada, is a human highlight reel in nearly every game. She makes passes that few in the nation can, she outrebounds opponents several inches taller than her, plays lockdown defense and gets to the rim at will.
“(Williams’) activity level was really, really high today,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I love watching Gabby play. I enjoy watching her because of how many things she’s capable of doing. I want her to have a great last two months of the season and I’m hopeful that she can just keep adding performances like this.”
Williams played just 20 minutes due to a sore hip, but had a tremendous impact despite the limit set for her. She was efficient scoring, finishing with 13 points on 6-9 shooting, but was particularly dominant in her impact in other areas of the floor. Williams’ playmaking ability was especially evident as she finished with nine assists, several of which threaded the tiniest of needles to find the open teammate for an easy bucket.
Defensively, Williams constantly created havoc for the Green Wave. She finished with four steals, and her high-energy defense contributed to several more of the Huskies’ 18 steals on the afternoon. To cap off an already brilliant stat line, Williams grabbed seven rebounds to show off her jumping ability and motor to go up for the ball.
“When she graduates, we’re gonna certainly miss all the things that she does for us,” Auriemma said. “And it is at both ends of the floor, absolutely right. When she’s passing the ball the way she was passing it today, it just makes everybody on the team that much more dangerous.”
Third Quarter’s the Charm
The Huskies had quite a showing coming out of the locker room in the third quarter, shooting an otherworldly 92.9 percent from the field in the frame. UConn was lethal from all spots on the floor on offense on the way to a 31-point third quarter, and allowed just nine points defensively.
The third quarter has been somewhat of a revelation for the Huskies’ as of late. They have scored a combined 92 points in the third quarter over the last three games, allowing just 25 points in the same span. UConn has shot 40-51 from the field in the third period and just seems to come out of the locker room with an intensity and focus that puts the nail in the coffin for their opponents.
“I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the locker room during the halftimes, so maybe that’s what it is,” Auriemma said. “I just think that we’re in a pretty good flow right now on the offensive end. I think we’re moving especially well without the ball.”
Auriemma insists it has nothing to do with a locker room speech he’s given.
“I don’t believe it myself when I look at our team that we could be that good a shooting team, but we are,” Auriemma said. “And we go through stretches and they happen to be in the third quarter now. We go through stretches where we make everything… I just hope it keep’s going that’s all. It’s not anything I’m saying at halftime, trust me.”
Next up, the Huskies will take on perhaps one of their biggest tests this season, traveling to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the defending national champions South Carolina Gamecocks Thursday night on ESPN.