No. 1 UConn visits Nevada in homecoming game for Gabby Williams
Reno, Nev. — It doesn't take long for Gabby Williams to unleash vivid recollections of some of her previous visits to Lawlor Events Center.
There were some unforgettable AAU games on the homecourt of the University of Nevada, and in the final game of her sophomore season Williams had 24 points to lead Reed High School to its first state title in almost 20 years.
Then there was that late November day in 2008 when Williams, then a wide-eyed 12-year-old, sat in the stands and watched her sister Kayla record a double-double and score 15 points, her best scoring output to that point, to lead the Wolf Pack to a stunning 85-82 victory over Angel McCoughtry and nationally ranked Louisville.
The roles will be reversed on Tuesday (9 p.m., CBS Sports Network) when Kayla Williams will be front and center in a personal cheering section for the All-American UConn forward as she plays her first game in her native Nevada since her injured-shortened senior season at Reed.
"They are getting excited, my sister especially, my sister's old teammates and they are coming," Williams sad. "It's going to be pretty funny because they are coming in UConn gear and they all went to Nevada."
Nevada began playing at the Lawlor Events Center during the 1994-95 season and the next home victory would be No. 200 at the arena. The women's basketball attendance record of 4,801 set 11 1/2 months ago is likely to fall.
Williams is letting others handle the purchasing and distribution of tickets, but there will be many familiar faces from her hometown of Sparks, which is only about five miles from the arena. Also, family members from the Oakland, Calif., area are planning to make the 3 1/2 hour journey. Former teammates and coaches from not only her basketball days in Nevada but also when she became the No. 1 rated high school high jumper in the country also are planning to attend.
"I am going to be really happy to see everybody," Williams said. "Every time I get to go home and get to see people I never get to see or I see them twice a year. A lot of them have never seen me play before, so it is really special for my friends.
"Even my track coaches are coming to the game, too, and I am excited to see them because for a long time that was my family, so I am very happy that they get to see me at this level because they helped me get here."
UConn coach Geno Auriemma has tried to schedule homecoming games for his seniors outside of the New England and tri-state area. Some years conference games will serve that purpose but it took some work to schedule the game at Nevada as well as the upcoming contest in Toronto to face Duquesne so Kia Nurse can play a collegiate game in her native Ontario.
"I never asked for it and they just made it happen for me so it is really, really special," Williams said. "The coaching staff, the administration, I never expected for it to happen, so I would have been happy with anything."
Williams suffered season-ending knee injuries as a junior and senior at Reed so it was uncertain what sort of impact she would have at UConn. Williams also had to deal with a change of position as the UConn coaches felt she was best suited to be an undersized post player after playing on the perimeter before arriving in Storrs.
Well, she is the only active Division I women's basketball player with at least 750 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals. The only other UConn players to check all of those boxes are Svetlana Abrosimova, Kelly Faris, Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart.
She is already in the top 20 in UConn history with 785 rebounds and 232 steals. Her next blocked shot will put her in the top 20 in that category. It's quite possible that she could end her UConn career in the top 20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks something only Moore and Stewart have accomplished.
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