After early foul trouble, Gabby Williams regroups to spark UConn

— -- STORRS, Conn. -- Gabby Williams jumped early and totally whiffed the opening tipoff, eager to get a leg up on her taller Baylor opponent in the other half of the circle.

If there's a metaphor for Williams' play at UConn for the first two games of the season, that mistimed jump was it.

The misstep will likely be a footnote after freshman Crystal Dangerfield scored 19 points to lead the third-ranked Huskies past No. 2 Baylor 72-61 on Thursday for their 77th consecutive victory. It is, however, characteristic of how Williams has started this season.

The early minutes of the first two games have not been kind. Fresh off early foul trouble during UConn's season-opening win against Florida State, Williams again found herself on the bench Thursday.

She looked like she was well on her way to a big game early. The 5-foot-11 junior guard took a charge, had a monster block and hit a key bucket -- and then she picked up her second foul with 5:19 left in the first quarter, putting her on the bench for the rest of the half.

"I told myself I was never going to be in that position [in early foul trouble] again, and to be in it the next game was really frustrating for me," Williams said.

While the Huskies are known for playing suffocating defense, discipline is another trademark. Huskies rarely foul out. But Williams wasn't the only UConn player in foul trouble. UConn finished the first half with Dangerfield, Kia Nurse, center Natalie Butler and freshmen Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin on the floor. That's not a typical lineup for the Huskies; they needed to reach deep into the bench to steer through the crisis.

"Our propensity to put ourselves in foul trouble these first two games is putting us in bad situations," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "And we put ourselves in another bad one [tonight]."

UConn showed some mettle, though, putting four players in double figures and outdueling Baylor's taller post players. Williams played all 20 minutes of the second half to finish with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, plus three assists, two blocks and two steals. She came up big when her team needed her most, making a huge steal with 2:15 left .

"For a lot of people, that [adversity] would affect them and shut them down," said Katie Lou Samuelson, who had 16 points. "But she came out in the second half and was a huge spark for us. It was really important for her to do what she did. She took that charge and got our whole team really amped up."

In the second half, Williams knew she had to play her game, but be smart and "be clean," as she put it.

"I had to put mind over matter," she said. "I'm proud of how I came back."