HARTFORD, Conn. - Gabby Williams couldn't recall whether she scored 1,000 points in her injury-shortened scholastic career at Reed High in Sparks, Nevada.
When the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior forward reached the plateau with 3:35 left in the third quarter of top-ranked UConn's 90-45 win over No. 23 Temple at the XL Center Wednesday night, she wasn't aware of the milestone even though teammate Napheesa Collier knew exactly what was going on.
"I had no idea," Williams said. "Pheesa was trying to tell me on the court and I had no idea what she was saying. They told me when I went and sat on the bench."
Williams finished with 15 points and her career total stands at 1,003. She is the 43rd member of the 1,000-point club.
"It's special. It's special my name gets to be in the books again," Williams said. "I'm focused on other things but it's pretty cool."
Williams made all seven of her shots from the floor. The only person stopping her was herself as she picked up three first-quarter fouls to force coach Geno Auriemma to sit her down for the rest of the half.
When she came out for good with 3:51 left, she slapped Auriemma's right hand so hard that the Hall of Fame coach was shaking the hand in pain.
"She whacked me like right in the fingers," Auriemma said. "If it was Pheesa, she'd have gotten me right in the palm of my hand."
"He's just delicate," Williams said with a smile."
It was a solid bounce-back effort for Williams and the Huskies (27-0), who clinched their fourth straight American Athletic Conference regular season title with their 102nd consecutive.
Last Saturday at Tulane, Williams was just 4-for-10 from the floor and while she did grab 14 rebounds she also had five turnovers. UConn needed to hold on to beat the Green Wave 63-60, a team that's now under .500 in the league and in sixth place following their home loss to Central Florida Wednesday night.
"I was embarrassed, and I think we all kind of were," Williams said. "Things like that just shouldn't happen. There is no excuse for it. It looked lazy. It looked like we didn't care, and that's not what this program is all about. You could tell that at Tulane, our heads weren't in it. Today we tried to be locked in and focused on what we had to get done tonight.
"It was a wake-up call. We should have realized earlier that we aren't necessarily talented enough to beat teams the way that we should. What makes us great is how competitive we are, how hard we work and how we make hustle plays, and we just tried to get that back."
Williams is the second UConn player to reach 1,000 this season. Classmate Kia Nurse, who missed her second straight game with a stress reaction in her right ankle, reached the plateau on Jan. 24 at East Carolina.
On deck is Katie Lou Samuelson, who has 963 points.
"It's great for Gabby, because when you think about it she hardly played a lot as a freshman," Auriemma said. "For her to be doing what she's doing … She's worked so hard to make herself into the player she is."
Referee Dennis DeMayo officiated his final game Wednesday night as the 63-year-old announced his retirement earlier this year.
DeMayo and Auriemma have a history back to their high school days growing up in the Philadelphia area. The two played against each other and coached against each other in the Philadelphia Catholic League.
The only real debate the two had Wednesday night came at the end of the first quarter when DeMayo called Williams for her third foul with 0.3 seconds on the clock. Auriemma was already upset with referee Ed Sidlasky, who had called a charging foul on Williams on UConn's previous possession.
Maybe DeMayo could have whistled Auriemma for a technical foul for old time sake.
"I tried to get it over with in the first half and he wouldn't do it," Auriemma said. "He made the call on Gabby and I wanted to kill him. He's mellowed a lot. I guarantee if it was us and Notre Dame he would have given me one."
Some memories die hard.
On March 4, 2013, in South Bend, DeMayo hit Auriemma with a technical foul in the first half of a showdown with the Irish. Then with UConn trying to hang on to a one-point lead in the final 35 seconds of regulation, DeMayo called the fifth fouls on Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley in a 5.4 second span. Notre Dame would go in to win 96-87 in triple overtime to capture the Big East regular season title outright.
DeMayo also officiated in six NCAA Final Four and was on the floor for the 2000 national championship game in Philadelphia when the Huskies routed Tennessee 71-52.
"Thirty-two years, every year that I've been at Connecticut Dennis has been doing games. But just like everyone else, he's lost a step, or two," Auriemma said with a smile.
UConn Class of 2017 signees Mikayla Coombs (5-foot-8 guard, Buford, Georgia), Lexi Gordon (6-foot wing, Fort Worth, Texas), and Megan Walker (6-foot-1 wing, Chesterfield, Virginia) have been selected to play in the third annual Jordan Brand Classic girls game.
The contest will be played on April 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
UConn sophomores Samuelson and Collier took part in the 2015 game while freshman Crystal Dangerfield played in the event a year ago.
Coombs and Walker will also play in the McDonald's All-America Game March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.