UConn women's notebook: Williams' absence latest blow

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Jan. 18—The hits keep coming to the UConn women's basketball team.

The Huskies knew they would be without guards Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd when they faced Oregon. Then they learned Sunday they'd be without senior guard Christyn Williams, who had entered COVID-19 protocols.

After spotting No. 9 UConn the first 10 points, the Ducks rolled to a 72-59 win at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.

"We knew coming out here that she wasn't going to play, and that's that," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

It is unknown whether Williams will be available for UConn's Big East home game with Seton Hall on Friday.

The Little Rock, Arkansas native put together her best back-to-back games of the season last week against Butler and Xavier and was named to the Big East weekly honor roll on Monday.

For the season, Williams is averaging 14.6 points and 3.5 rebounds. It's the second game she has missed in her four seasons. She sat a game against St. John's a year ago with an ankle injury.

"It's another unfortunate blow to an already challenging season, especially when I thought Christyn was playing her best ball," Auriemma said. "She was playing at a really high level and had put together a bunch of good games."

"Even more important was the fact we were going to play a team that was going to play us zone for 40 minutes, and all of a sudden we are missing one more shooter. It's another punch in the gut for our team, for Christyn and everybody."

Evina Westbrook returned to the starting lineup for what served as a homecoming game for the Salem, Oregon native. But the fifth-year senior's struggles continued as she had eight points on 3-for-10 shooting from the floor in 38 minutes.

Poll position

UConn moved up one spot in the Associated Press for the second straight week to No. 9, though that figures to take a hit following the decisive loss to Oregon.

South Carolina remained No. 1 with the Gamecocks receiving 28-of-30 first-place votes. Stanford was second with No. 3 Louisville getting the other two first-place votes. North Carolina State and Tennessee rounded out the top five.

Florida Gulf Coast and Iowa rejoined the top 25 with Kansas State and South Florida dropping out. Oregon, which was ranked No. 9 in November before losing three starters (who have since returned) due to injuries, received votes following its overtime upset of Arizona Saturday.

Husky bites

Auriemma had positive news on Fudd, who is working her way back from a right foot injury. "We got pretty good news on her the other day that she can start doing some workouts," he said. "Hopefully little by little we will get her out on the court before too long." ... UConn lost to an unranked team for the second time this season (Georgia Tech) after not doing so since 2012 ... The Ducks' 18-0 first-half run Monday was the most unanswered points against the Huskies since DePaul had an 18-0 run against them on Dec. 8, 2017. The Blue Demons' spurt cut a 50-point deficit to 32 ... UConn is 16-5 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day following the loss. The Huskies had won seven in a row on the holiday dating back to a 2007 loss at North Carolina.

For coverage of all sports in the JI's 18-town coverage area, plus updates on the UConn women's basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma, follow Carl Adamec on Twitter: @CarlAdamec, Facebook: Carl Adamec, and Instagram: @CarlAdamec.

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