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Huskies beat up on Cal behind Williams and Dangerfield but may be without Samuelson due to injury.

POSTED November 17, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: Gabby Williams relishes her job as a defender who gets the opposing teams best player.

Maybe relish is too strong a word. Perhaps she understands that if she doesn't do it, who will?

"I mean, I don't have a choice," Williams said. "I had to do it all last year and it's not always fun, but I think when I get in that mindset that wonders, "who else is going to guard this guy?" Who else is going to guard her the way you (she) can guard her? It helps me prepare for that instead of saying, oh, another six-foot four guy?"

Williams took California’s big, 6'4" Kristine Anigwe out of her game early with a dominating first quarter performance that held the Golden Bears best player to just two points as the Huskies ran out to a 30-11 lead after one in route to an 82-47 win on Rebecca Lobo Night at Gampel Pavilion.

While most of the night revolved around good news, some bad news hit UConn when junior Katie Lou Samuelson was lost midway through the second quarter when she appeared to have her left foot stepped on while driving to the basket.

She would leave the game at the 4:02 mark of the quarter and not return.

Head coach Geno Auriemma said early reports looked like she had a mid-foot sprain, but the degree of severity won't be known until they can get a closer look at it on Saturday.

With big games on Sunday (Maryland at the XL Center) and on the road (at UCLA on Tuesday), the heavily front-loaded schedule might have to be faced without one of the Huskies best players.

Without Samuelson, the Huskies would need to get more of what they got against the #20 Golden Bears from sophomore Crystal Dangerfield, who is all of a sudden looking like she has been running this offense for much longer than less than a year.

Dangerfield scored 14 points, all but two of them in the first half when she was 4 for 6 from the floor, all of the makes were three pointers launched with a new-found confidence that her coach has noticed.

"She just has a level of confidence right now," Auriemma said. "You don't know where it comes from sometimes and why, but she has it. Right now, she's playing with a sense that I can do whatever I want from anywhere on the basketball court. I can make any shot, I can go anywhere I want. She's become, right in front of our eyes in a very short period of time, one of the better guards in the country."

She may need that confidence and performance in just two short days when UConn travels to Hartford to take on the Terrapins at 1:30.

"Now, if Lou can't play on Sunday," Auriemma said. "Crystal becomes even bigger."

Williams and the entire UConn defense made life impossible for the visitors who were forced into 11 turnovers in the first quarter, 29 for the game, mistakes that translated into 35 points for the now 2-0 Huskies.

Trying to figure out what his 5'11" senior should be known as has become a losing proposition for Auriemma. 

"I don't know how you really put a label on her," Auriemma said. "She's not a center, she's not a forward, not a guard yet she plays every one of those roles every game. I means she's going to guard the other guys big player. She rebounds for our team, she leads the break, she scores in the lane. She leads us in assists a lot of times. We have just come to count on her for so many things in every game, you know, she continues to surprise you with how many things she can do on the court."

Not only has her defense been tremendous but her overall game boarders on remarkable.

"She threw a couple of passes today that a lot of the guards we have had here wish they could make," Auriemma laughed.

NOTES: Kia Nurse added 14 points while Williams chipped in with 13 and Samuelson 12 in her 15 minutes of play before the injury.

UConn had a dozen steals to go with 20 assists on 30 baskets.

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