STORRS, Conn. -- Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams have been part of 100 wins with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
The Huskies' junior class reached the century mark Saturday thanks to the top-ranked Huskies' 83-41 American Athletic Conference victory over SMU before 10,012 at Gampel Pavilion.
"I didn't even think about that," Williams said. "Sometimes we get caught up with everything that's going on that we don't even think about how special the things that we're doing here are. I just feel blessed that we're in this position."
Now UConn and its junior class get to go for 100 in a row.
The Huskies (24-0 overall, 12-0 AAC) will try to reach that plateau Monday night when they entertain No. 6 South Carolina back here at Gampel Pavilion. Only limited tickets remain, and if the Gamecocks' last visit here two years ago is an indication, the building should be rocking.
"I love the atmosphere here because the fans are so close and they're just rowdy and loud," Nurse said. "This is one of the best places anywhere to play a game like that."
Monday night's contest is the first of a four-game deal the schools agreed to last year.
UConn is 100-1 since Nurse and Williams arrived on campus. Nurse made her first career start in victory No. 1 of the winning streak against Creighton and the only time she's come off the bench since was on Senior Night 2015. Williams did not play (coach's decision) in the loss to Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014.
They are the 10th consecutive class to reach 100 wins in its junior year at UConn. Only 12 senior classes in the country have reached 100 wins.
"It means we're old," Nurse said with a laugh. "That's pretty incredible when you think about it. It's a lot of wins."
Katie Lou Samuelson led five Huskies in double figures as the sophomore guard had 19 of her 22 points in the first half. Saniya Chong added 13 points and seven assists with no turnovers while Nurse had 13 points. Williams chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds while Napheesa Collier had her fourth double-double in five games with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Samuelson had missed Thursday's and Friday's practice dealing with illness and coach Geno Auriemma considered her questionable for Saturday's game.
But the Huntington Beach, California, native played through flu-like symptoms on Dec. 29 to score 23 points at Maryland, and dealt with tonsillitis while earning all-tournament honors and a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA U-17 world championships. Her ability to deal with adversity isn't new.
"There was some concern if it was smart for me to sit out today, but I knew I definitely wanted to play and when Coach asked me I told him that I wanted to play," Samuelson said. "He said OK and kind of left it up to me. I wanted to be as ready as I could and my teammates have my back. I didn't practice and they were in full support of me playing so it was easy to go out there.
"People were talking about me playing a certain amount of minutes, I told Coach, 'I want to play today to actually play and not play to go out there and play 10 minutes. He said if you go out there and play like you should only play 10 minutes, you'll only play 10 minutes. If you go out there and play like you should play more, you'll play more. It was on me to play as hard as I can."
UConn never trailed, though SMU was down only 14-12 before Samuelson scored six points in an 8-0 run to get the lead to double figures.
Nine unanswered points to close the half made it 44-22 at the break and the Huskies started the third quarter with a 14-4 spurt to blow it wide open. At that point with 5:27 to go in the period, Samuelson came out for the first and only time.
"There was never going to be an issue whether or not Lou was going to be able to be someone that you can count on," Auriemma said. "You don't have the kind of high school career she had and do some of the things she did toward the end of last season if you don't really believe in yourself and have a certain confidence level. She knows she's good."
Kiara Perry paced SMU (13-11, 4-7 AAC) with 11 points. Alicia Froling, the only player in the AAC averaging a double-double, picked up two quick fouls and was held to six points and eight rebounds.
UConn held a 28-2 advantage in points off of turnovers and also scored 30 fast-break points. SMU's Travis Mays, who was looking to become the first rookie coach in his first job to beat an Auriemma-coached team since Dec. 28, 1986 (La Salle's John Miller), had hoped to limit the Huskies' transition game.
"The way to test and gauge how good you can be or how good you are, you go against the best team like that and it shows up," Mays said. "It shows our habits and we definitely didn't get that accomplished."
It may have been a little more interesting, at least for awhile, if Samuelson had sat out. She has missed only one game in her career -- the 2016 national championship against Syracuse after she broke her left foot two days earlier against Oregon State.
"I love playing so I wanted to go out there and have fun today and make sure we could clean everything up for what's ahead," Samuelson said.
"A game like Monday night maybe comes at a perfect time for us," Auriemma said. "Maybe it's exactly the game we need at exactly the right time -- a team that we know if we don't play our A game, we could lose. It's good that we have that kind of game right around now."