The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Connecticut -- an 11-time NCAA champion -- announced a home-and-home women's basketball series Tuesday, which will take place in the fall of 2020 at UConn and in 2021 in Little Rock.
The Huskies will complete the series with a visit to the Jack Stephens Center during the 2021-22 season. UConn's trip to Arkansas will be a homecoming game for Little Rock native Christyn Williams, a freshman guard at UConn who will is scheduled to be a senior during the 2021-22 season. Williams played her high school basketball at Central Arkansas Christian.
"Going home and playing in my hometown will be so much fun," said Williams, who has started all 13 games as a freshman, averaging 13.2 points per game. "To be able to play at the collegiate level in front of the people and community that helped and supported me throughout middle and high school is a dream come true."
Game dates and tipoff times will be finalized at a later date. The series will mark UALR and UConn's first times playing each other.
"It's a testament to [UALR Coach] Joe Foley and what he's built and the relationships he's established in our industry and across the country," UALR Athletic Director Chasse Conque said. "And certainly, the student-athlete that's from Little Rock and the opportunity for UConn to bring her home really turned into a perfect storm."
UALR's 2020 game at UConn will either be held at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., or at the larger XL Center in Hartford, Conn., according to a copy of the game contract.
UALR and UConn will each pay for their respective travels to and from Connecticut and Arkansas. Per a special condition in the game contract, UALR will provide UConn with up to 20 complimentary rooms for one night in a mutually agreed upon "high-quality, full-service hotel in Little Rock."
The Huskies' 11 national championships under Coach Geno Auriemma are the most ever in women's college basketball. UConn has appeared in 19 Final Fours and completed six perfect seasons during Auriemma's tenure.
Auriemma is in his 34th season at UConn and became the fastest men's or women's basketball coach to reach 1,000 career victories last season.
Trojans Coach Joe Foley is no rookie to scheduling nonconference matchups against top-tier programs like UConn.
UALR has faced 21 high-major programs since the start of the 2013-14 season. Ten of the 21 games occurred at the Jack Stephens Center.
"Half of those being at the Jack Stephens Center, I think that's what special," Conque said. "We're not just playing these opponents, but bringing top-notch women's basketball to central Arkansas. It's a point of pride for Joe, and I know it is one for me as well."
UALR has met Mississippi State, the national runner-up during the past two seasons, in each of the past three seasons, including a 98-63 loss Nov. 28 at the Jack Stephens Center. UALR also has brought Texas A&M, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State to Little Rock.
"There's not a midmajor in the country that plays a better schedule than him," Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair said Nov. 20 after the Aggies defeated UALR 60-41 in Little Rock. "He's also located in the perfect place."
Blair proved prophetic on that November evening.
"Someday you'll get Connecticut in here, OK, and they'll pack this place," he said. "That will be good for basketball in the state. They're going to have to bring Williams home some time."
UALR’s Joe Foley has coached the Trojans women’s team against 21 high-major programs since the 2013-2014 season, including 10 games at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
Sports on 01/09/2019
Print Headline: Rock on, UConn: Series to bring Huskies, Williams to UALR