Many probably expected Megan Walker to lead the team in scoring, and those who didn’t would’ve guessed Crystal Dangerfield. Sunday afternoon for opening day at Gampel Pavilion, it was neither.
Christyn Williams led the Huskies with 24 points on 59% shooting, adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. UConn started slow, shooting 2-13 to start the game, but Williams provided a much-needed spark to get the Huskies ahead.
“She started touching the ball more, and she did what she normally does when she gets her hands on the ball,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Our offense is predicated on a lot of people getting lots of touches, and Christyn thrives on that.”
Ball movement was a problem for the Huskies early on. Auriemma explained after the game that during that slow start, Williams approached him and said, “I’m not touching the ball.” She then went on to score 11 points on 5-6 shooting.
“I wanted her to be involved more. I wanted her to rebound more and be aggressive, that’s her game. She’s not going to be one to wait to get things. She has to be involved all of the time, moving without the ball and touching the ball,” Auriemma said. “Everything you can imagine, she has to be involved in.”
Most games, you can expect Dangerfield to set up plays and Walker to score. Williams getting involved everywhere, like Auriemma said, is going to be what makes the difference in the big games this season. Williams IS the x-factor.
Known as one of the best finishers in the country at the guard position as just a freshman last season, Williams was actually able to hurt California in the midrange on Sunday.
“They were going under and phasing screens, so [the midrange] was open,” Williams said.
She hit five midrange jumpers, totaling 10 of her 24 points. In fact, she was so comfortable taking those shots that she took two midrange jumpers on fast breaks.
Blowing by defenders and finishing through contact is still the most impressive part of her game. She finished two and-ones, made five total layups and shot six free throws.
With Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson gone after carrying the offense for the better part of four years, the No. 1 player from 2018’s recruiting class will be relied on to fill the gap in the scoring column. After showing out in the season opener, Williams seems up to the task.