ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gabby Williams was at the most wonderful place on Earth Sunday.
There were no 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 players at CFE Arena for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior forward to defend.
"You have no idea," Williams said with a smile. "UCF was still really physical so it was still tough. But it is really nice when I don't have to jump around somebody."
Williams was her stat-sheet stuffing self Sunday, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks before taking a well-deserved seat for the fourth quarter. Well before then, the top-ranked Huskies secured their 88th consecutive win as they ripped Central Florida 84-48 in their American Athletic Conference opener.
UConn (13-0 overall, 1-0 AAC) is two victories away from matching its NCAA-record 90-game winning streak and will play its next two at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies entertain East Carolina on Wednesday (SNY, 7 p.m.) and could go for the tie Jan. 10 against No. 23 South Florida.
Sophomore Napheesa Collier paced UConn with 22 points as the AAC leader in field-goal percentage was 10-for-11 shooting from the floor. Katie Lou Samuelson added 17 points and seven rebounds along with a career-high four steals.
"If there are two players in America in the same class, two sophomores, that are playing as well as the two we have, I want to see them," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
Williams, though, helped set a tone as the Huskies had no letdown following Thursday's emotionally and physically draining win at No. 4 Maryland. The Sparks, Nevada, native made all five of her first-half shots and was everywhere on the defensive end. Midway through the second quarter, UConn had a 32-point lead.
And Auriemma believes she can do things to reach another level during the league season.
"I think that you saw some of it today," he said. "I want her to not pass up any of those mid-range jump shots. She feels confident with that and I feel confident in that and so do her teammates. Sometimes she's in a hurry to get to a shot around the rim. The way she's defending and the way she is rebounding, if she adds that and over the next couple of months if we could extend her range just a little bit, that changes everything for us.
"I like it when you start taking a player for granted. That means you've come to expect certain things and you're going to get those things every game. They're not always going to be things that show up on a stat sheet though she fills up the stat sheet. There are things that she might do that help your team that may not be so evident."
Williams leads the Huskies in rebounds (8.1), assists (4.6) and steals (2.7). No one has done that at UConn since Maya Moore in 2011 when she won her third Wade Trophy.
"I appreciate what Gabby does a lot," Samuelson said. "Maybe we do take it for granted sometimes but that's because we have the confidence she'll do it every single game. I know she'll go out and do the things she does. We trust the people on our team and I trust Gabby."
But while the points, rebounds, assists, and steals are easy to count, the Huskies also count on Williams to deliver the intangibles. She said her biggest contribution in that area is communication.
"Just making sure that I'm the loudest person on the court," Williams said. "I'm trying to run the defense since I'm the guy who is farthest back and I can see the whole court. I'm trying to help everyone in that aspect, getting tips and rebounds. And I want to be that Energizer Bunny-type to get people going."
For the fourth straight game, UConn did not trail. At 30-2 run over a 12:13 span turned it into an early rout. Collier had nine points and Williams seven in the burst, doing their damage inside. Kia Nurse, Samuelson and Crystal Dangerfield nailed 3-pointers.
Williams gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the half at 32. It was 45-16 at the break.
"One of the things we wanted to make sure that we accomplished was not allowing the tempo to be dictated the way UCF wants to play," Auriemma said. "They use up a lot of the shot clock and they make you use up the shot clock with their three-quarter court pressure. If you're not careful, it becomes a pace they want to play at. By coming out and taking advantage of opportunities early in the shot clock I thought we got the game going the way we wanted it to go. We shot the ball great, we played exceptionally well defensively, so there wasn't anything I was disappointed in the whole first half."
Auriemma substituted more freely over the final 20 minutes. Nurse, who came in third in the league in minutes played (34.7), saw 29 minutes of action Sunday, only the second time this season she's been under 30.
"I don't mean this to be disrespectful," Auriemma said. "But at halftime I said to the team, 'I think we're going to win today. So if we just want to leave here with a win and it doesn't matter to you guys how you play individually, then what's the point?' The second half is about what you, you and you have to do individually so that when we leave we can go, 'We won, but I got better at this and did this.' "
UConn did have a season-high 21 turnovers, including three in 23 minutes by Saniya Chong. The senior guard had five turnovers in 229 minutes over her first 10 games.
UCF, which entered leading the AAC in scoring defense and fourth in field-goal percentage, allowed a season high in points as the Huskies shot 63.3 percent from the floor. Aliyah Gregory led the Knights (10-4, 0-1) with 18 points while Zykira Lewis added 15.
Auriemma is now 54-0 against opponents that have one of his former players or assistant coaches on their coaching staff. Two-time All-American and 1998 UConn graduate Nykesha Sales is in her first season as an assistant on UCF rookie coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson's staff. Auriemma made his way quickly through the postgame handshake line except to stop for a big hug for Sales.