STORRS, Conn. -- It took just a few minutes for Gabby Williams to lend Kia Nurse a hand in moving into her dorm room at the University of Connecticut almost four years ago. Little did she know it was the beginning of a friendship that the two believe will last a lifetime.
"I didn't know her. I didn't know anyone that was here," Nurse said. "But Gabby helped me get my bed into my room and that was big for us. I was like, 'She would do this for me?' We went to lunch the next day and we became best friends."
Their four-year careers with the Huskies are beginning to wind down. They will play their final regular season game Monday as No. 1 UConn hosts 18th-ranked South Florida in American Athletic Conference action at Gampel Pavilion.
It's Senior Night.
The ceremony for the seniors is scheduled to start at 6:37 p.m. and will include Williams' induction into the Huskies of Honor as a 2017 WBCA All-American. It will be streamed online on the UConn women's basketball Facebook page. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m.
Time flies when you're winning 140 games, two national championships, four regular season AAC titles and three AAC Tournament crowns (and counting).
"I had seen Kia on social media and things like that before she got here, but we had never talked before," Williams said. "It was kind of funny. I mean, I met her and it was like, 'I kind of feel like I know you.' So I said that and it was like the most awkward encounter ever. She seemed very opposite of what she is now. I thought she'd be quiet and low key, and now she never stops talking."
But as they talked, they found that they had similar interests.
One thing, or person to be exact, stood out: Beyonce.
"When you're an 18-year-old girl, that's something you can build a friendship on," Nurse said.
"One of the earliest things was we both loved Beyonce," Williams said. "We both loved to sing and dance and just be goofy all of the time. We laughed at the same things. Everyone had been telling us about how well we would get along. From there, we've just been through so much together starting with our freshman year and time has made us closer. But we just hit it off right away."
Their impact on the basketball court was felt from the start, though their second game -- a loss at Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014 -- was a turning point.
Nurse has not come off the bench since. Her record as a starter is 135-1, as she missed four games as a junior with an ankle injury. Williams did not play (coach's decision), and admits she was not ready to play in that kind of game then. Since, she's become one of the Huskies' most reliable big-game players and an All-American.
The growth continues to this day with, they hope, 10 games to go.
"Gabby still makes plays and I'll look at her and go, 'I don't know how you did that,' " Nurse said. "She can read a play before it happens. Before you cut, she knows what you're going to do and she finds you when you're open and where you're open. Her passes are spectacularly on time, on target.
"It's the same off the court. When you come here and you're in this position as far away from home as she is, you have to learn to be responsible and accountable. You get your stuff done when you have to get your stuff done. That's something she does on a consistent basis. You never have to worry about her."
Nurse has gone on to play for her native Canada in the Olympics and has been named an academic All-American. She's also put together her best season as a senior and will give All-American voters something to think about in the next month.
"Kia's faced a lot of adversity since she's been here," Williams said. "She's learned how to deal with it. On the court, being part of this program is not easy. She's a point guard so a lot falls on her shoulders. Yet she just keeps learning. Off the court, we're not afraid to say anything to each other. The closer we've become, the more we've been able to be honest with each other."
Of course, being around each other as much as teammates are means you learn about their idiosyncrasies as well as they're traits that make a person who they are.
Williams and Nurse know each other too well it seems.
"Gabby's pretty nerdy when it comes to puzzles, and marvel movies and comic books," Nurse said. "Some people know that she likes Captain America, but it's crazy. I have to sit down and have a full conversation with her about what's going on."
And sometimes those conversations are held at the dinner table.
"Kia loves ketchup," Williams said. "I don't think a human should love ketchup as much as she does. She'll put it on literally everything."
Monday's game will be No. 139 for Nurse, and the Hamilton, Ontario, native enters with 1,584 points, 355 rebounds, 425 assists and 175 steals. She ranks in UConn's top 25 in points, assists, and steals.
Williams will be playing in her 142nd game and comes in with 1,471 points, 958 rebounds, 434 assists and 290 steals. The Sparks, Nevada, native and reigning national Defensive Player of the Year is in the Huskies' top 10 in rebounds and steals, the top 20 in blocked shots, and the top 30 in points.
Another point they agree on: They're better with each other than they would've ever been without each other.
"I remember our freshman year and I was struggling to learn the plays," Williams said. "I went to her dorm and we were drawing on the mirror with markers so she could help me learn the plays. She's always taking the time to make sure I'm good, on an off the court."
"We've been through ups and downs together," Nurse added. "Fortunately, we've had the ability to go to one another, just sit down, and talk things through."
In a couple of months, those discussions will likely not be face to face.
Williams and Nurse are projected to be first-round picks in April's WNBA Draft and are likely headed to different destinations.
But they have a plan to stay in touch.
"Fortunately in this day and age those little cell phone computers we hang in our pockets will help and be a big part of that," Nurse said. "I know that if I ever need anything that she will be there for me. She'll always be a phone call away. And I'll probably be watching figure skating somewhere and I'll think about her and she'll tell me what they did right and what they did wrong, and what score they should have got."
Yes, Williams loves figure skating and says she was a figure skater in a past life.
A third national championship in four years would make the separation easier.
"We've talked about it and we're not looking forward to it," Williams said. "Right now, we just don't want to not be in each other's life. We know we won't see each other every day anymore but we don't lose that connection."
UConn brought them together. And with their success in four years here, they'll be together forever.
The Huskies (28-0, 15-0 AAC) clinched the league regular season title outright and the No. 1 seed for the AAC tournament Saturday with their 80-36 rout of SMU at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. They used a 43-0 run to erase a six-point deficit as they made it five consecutive AAC regular season crowns and stretched their run to 25 straight seasons with either a league regular season championship, a league tournament championship, or a national championship.
USF (24-5, 13-2) will be the No. 2 seed for the AAC tournament and features the league's leading scorer in Kitija Laksa, the league's leading rebounder in Maria Jespersen and the league's leading assist maker in Laia Flores.
UConn defeated USF 100-49 at the Sun Dome on Jan. 6 and is 24-0 against the Bulls all-time.