Gabby Williams leads UConn to 100th win in a row

UConn tops South Carolina for 100th straight win (1:41)

Gabby Williams' big game of 26 points and 14 rebounds propels No. 1 UConn to 66-55 victory against No. 6 South Carolina, the Huskies' 100th consecutive victory. (1:41)

STORRS, Conn. -- UConn coach Geno Auriemma is rarely stumped when it comes to making comparisons. Whether he has had two days or two seconds to think about it, he can virtually always put things into a similar context -- whether it's a team, a player, a moment, or a game.

But junior Gabby Williams -- a 5-foot-11 supreme athlete whose basketball skills are well on the way to catching up to her physical gifts -- is a challenge for him to describe. Who is she like? Who does she remind him of? Who does he see as her counterpart in the WNBA?

He's genuinely not sure of that. But this much is absolutely certain: She embodies all the qualities that have spurred UConn to be such a standard-bearer for excellence. Her performance in the Huskies' landmark 100th consecutive victory on Monday -- a 66-55 triumph over South Carolina -- was the kind of effort that makes UConn so hard to beat.

Williams had 26 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals, while playing all 40 minutes. She and 6-1 sophomore Napheesa Collier were primarily responsible for making things as difficult as possible defensively for South Carolina's 6-5 A'ja Wilson and 6-4 Alaina Coates. The Gamecock duo ended up with a combined 27 points and 20 rebounds, while Williams and Collier had 44 and 23. The Huskies are used to being undersized this season, especially compared to last season's team. Nevertheless, they're 25-0 in 2016-17 and have played a lot of good teams.

"I mean, I'm tired, that's for sure," Williams said with a smile after facing Wilson and Coates. "They are bigger and taller, and a little more physical than I am. So I had to use my advantages, which are my athleticism, my quickness and being smaller, which actually helps. I can get in the passing lanes."

Auriemma called Williams' game "extraordinary." He used the term "magnificent" when she had 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 72-61 victory at Notre Dame in December. "She's done it in the biggest games against the best teams," Auriemma said. "She is an extraordinary athlete who understands that she is, and then tries to live up to it. There's no one else like her in all of college basketball."

Williams can defend players far bigger than she is and effectively score against them. She can handle the basketball, and is the Huskies' leader in assists, now with 133 this season.

About the only thing she doesn't do offensively is shoot the 3-pointer. And her free-throw percentage -- 69.5 percent -- could be improved. Although, she was 6-of-6 from the line Monday. Then there's her rebounding. There are a lot of things that UConn has done consistently better than any team in the country over many years now, but hitting the boards has been a big component to the relentless way the Huskies wear down their opponents. Williams personifies that.

"She's one that never stops," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "You have to be aware of where she is at all times on the floor. She leads their team in assists and rebounding -- it's quite incredible."

And as Auriemma said of Williams on Monday, "I don't know what was bigger -- her rebounding or her heart."

Then again, you could say those things are kind of one in the same, especially for a player less than 6 feet tall who does everything Williams does.

Which brings us back to comparisons. Auriemma said one player whom Williams kind of reminds him of is Kevin Freeman, who helped lead the UConn men to the 1999 NCAA title. Freeman had the kind of drive and determination that we're seeing now in Williams, although he wasn't really undersized at 6-7.

Williams missed most of her junior and senior seasons of high school in Sparks, Nevada, because of knee injuries. Then when she came to UConn, she was moved from guard to forward. She has had some times when her confidence has plummeted, but not to the degree that she couldn't build herself back up.

Auriemma has told her that when she plays with a positive frame of mind, she's a superstar. We saw that Monday, and it exemplified not just the work that she has put into being this kind of player, but the mindset that Auriemma and his staff seem able to instill in almost all those who have put on a UConn jersey.

It's integral to why they have gotten to 100 victories in a row, and why there doesn't seem to be any end in sight to this streak.

"I'm proud of how tough and composed we were today; that's the culture we have here," Williams said, then added, about reaching 100 in a row, "It's not the number, really, that's so special. It was the environment, the fans, the alumni being here, the amount of coverage we had, and how many people were watching the game. That's what was special for me."