STORRS - Christyn Williams has had more success in her three years with the UConn womenâs basketball team than most players from around the country in that span.
The guard from Little Rock, Arkansas is a 1,000-point scorer, twice a first-team all-conference pick, and she has helped the Huskies to three conference regular season and tournament titles and a pair of NCAA Final Four berths.
Williams, however, admits she has not risen to her own high expectations too often during her time here. But as she enters her senior year, sheâs looking to build on some of the best play of her career during the 2021 postseason.
âI proved to myself that I could hang with the big dogs,â Williams said this month at the Werth Champions Center. âI feel like there was stigma surrounding my name that every time we would play a big non-conference game that I donât show up. So my mindset from the Big East tournament on last year was, âIâm good.â Iâve always had a little confidence thing going on but I knew that I had to turn it up for the tournaments.â
In eight postseason games March and April, Williams averaged 18.5 points on 49.2 percent shooting from the floor and 4.6 rebounds as UConn (28-2) rolled to the Big East tournament crown and reached its 13th straight Final Four before falling to Arizona in the national semifinals.
She was named to the Big East and NCAA River Walk all-tournament teams. While she has scored in double figures in all 19 postseason games sheâs played with the Huskies, 2021 was the first time she was a factor on the defensive end as she was given the toughest assignments by coach Geno Auriemma.
No performance was more impressive than the Sweet 16 victory over Iowa when she scored 27 points while keeping Hawkeyesâ freshman and the nationâs leading scorer, Caitlin Clark, under control.
âI need to continue to have the same mindset I had in March and April, the same sense of urgency I had then,â Williams said. âIt was then I literally told myself that I could hang with the big guys.
âHonestly, I just wanted to win. I was going to do anything and everything I could for us to win. Whatever my team needed to be to do I was going to do and I played the game that way.â
Williams made her first big splash with UConn in her seventh game when she scored 28 points in a win at reigning national champion Notre Dame on Dec. 3, 2018.
Since there have been moments of frustrations.
In losses to Oregon and South Carolina her sophomore season - a year she called the worst of her career, she combined for 10 points on 4-for-21 shooting.
Her homecoming game Jan. 28 at Arkansas had a finish sheâd like to forget. With the Huskies down three late, Williams rebounded an Amber Ramirez miss but instead of calling time out immediately and advancing the ball to the front court with three seconds left, Williams advanced the ball herself and UConn wasnât granted its last time out until 0.3 of a second remained. The Huskies got a shot in the corner from Evina Westbrook off but it was off target and the Razorbacks had the upset.
While she was perhaps UConnâs best player against Arizona, her night ended on a sour note when she was called for her fifth foul by referee Dee Kantner as Aari McDonald scored on a drive. Though Kantner watched a replay that showed Williams did not touch McDonald, she stayed with her call.
Not much went right for the Huskies in the 69-59 loss and Williamsâ absence at the end likely made no difference in the final outcome.
âRefs are going to be refs and it is what it is,â Williams said. âI was just trying to control what I could control. I tried to keep my head in the game.
âAfter I watched that game again, you could feel it when we were in the game. We were not playing UConn basketball. I donât know if we were nervous or what. We were prepared for them but we did a lot of damage to ourselves. Arizona was a factor in that, of course. But if we had played our best basketball we would have been fine. We didnât. We were immature. Itâs hard to explain.â
She has another chance coming up.
Williams said she hasnât thought about the options that will open up for her next spring when she can move on to the WNBA or use her final year of college eligibility she has thanks to the NCAA waiver from last season.
She hopes she saved her best year for what could be last.
âItâs pretty crazy that Iâm a senior,â Williams said. âI felt like I was a senior last year in some ways because we were the leaders of the team. So we had a great opportunity to have that experience our junior year. Weâre really prepared this year.
âNow we have a lot of work to do.â