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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, January 11, 2016

UConn struggles to slow down USF's Williams again

My curiosity got the better of me.

During last night's game I tweeted that South Florida's Courtney Williams posted her fourth career 20-point game against UConn. I figured that the last time it happened, it was probably done by a Notre Dame player and I was correct.

Skylar Diggins actually had five 20-point scoring games against UConn while Natalie Novosel accomplished the feat four times. Williams is averaging 22.8 points in her last five games against UConn.

The Huskies certainly made Williams work as it took 25 shots for her to get the 26 points she scored last night. Pretty much every UConn player had their chance to guard Williams and watching live, Gabby Williams (no relation) seemed to be the most effective defender against the USF star. I joked to the other beat writers at the game that I would pay money to see a decathlon or heptathlon competition between UConn's Williams, who finished fifth in the high jump at the 2012 Olympic trials, and USF's Williams who also has an incredible vertical leap.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said that Williams is as difficult to guard as any player his team has played this season. Historically the Huskies have been effective containing the other team's top offensive option. Notre Dame (whether it was Diggins, Novosel, Kayla McBride or Jewell Loyd) did seem to be able to get shots for the players it wanted to get shots and the story is the same for Williams who has taken between 22-26 shots in the last five games against UConn.

"The outside shot was obviously on display and she does a really good job of stopping on a dime so you kind of have to stay in your stance and keep her guessing on what you are doing but at the same time you are trying to keep her in front of you so it is always a bit of a difficult task,"

UConn sophomore guard Kia Nurse said. There was one stretch when the 6-foot-4 Breanna Stewart was chasing Williams around and Stewart's length did make things challenging for Williams - for a while.

"That is when your competitive nature really starts flaring," Stewart said. "She is a great player and she can get her shot off quickly. You want to make her do things that she is not so good at which isn't a lot." Williams has at least one and as many as three games left against UConn so perhaps she will match Diggins' total of five 20-point games or even surpass that total.

There have been some pretty gaudy numbers associated with the UConn women's basketball program in recent years. The Huskies have the three of the four longest winning streaks in NCAA history and before the end of the month could have the top three marks. There was another number coming out of last night's win over USF that I didn't pick up on at the time. It was the 50th start for sophomore guard Kia Nurse and UConn's record in those games is 50-0.

It's not the first time this has happened as Tiffany Hayes started 54 games in her freshman and sophomore seasons as the Huskies posted back to back undefeated seasons but it is still rather impressive.

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