HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — After a closer than expected three-point win at Tulane, top-ranked UConn had a bit of motivation to play well against newly ranked Temple.
Napheesa Collier scored a career-high 31 points and the Huskies routed the No. 23 Owls 90-45 on Wednesday night to extend the program’s record winning streak to 102 straight games.
“I tried to come out really strong, we all did coming off that game with Tulane,” Collier said. “I think we were all just really focused coming in.”
Katie Lou Samuelson added 19 points for the Huskies (27-0, 14-0 American), who clinched their fourth straight American Athletic Conference regular-season championship. The Huskies have never lost a conference game, either in the regular season or the conference tournament.
UConn led by 22 points at halftime of this one and scored the first eight points of the second half.
Sophomore Gabby Williams chipped in with 15 points, giving her 1,003 for her career.
Williams picked up three first-quarter fouls, but Collier hit her first six shots from the floor and the Huskies led 23-11 after 10 minutes. The sophomore forward was 13 of 14 from the floor and pulled down 13 rebounds. It was her 11th double-double this season.
“The kid never takes a bad shot,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. “She doesn’t force shots. She doesn’t throw stuff up there with no intention of making it. She doesn’t waste opportunities.”
Feyonda Fitzgerald and Donnaizha Fountain each had 12 points for the Owls (21-6, 11-3) who lost for the first time in six games.
UConn outscored Temple 42-4 in the paint and 21-4 on the fast break.
“We knew if we could take care of the basketball and limit transition baskets and not give up second chance points, then we might stand a chance,” said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza. “But to start the game we were giving them easy transition points.”
Temple: The Owls are ranked for the first time since the 2005-06 season. They had won five in a row after back-to-back losses to UConn and South Florida at home. The Owls avenged the USF loss in Tampa on Sunday. Temple has lost its last nine to UConn, including a 97-69 defeat in Philadelphia at the beginning of the month.
UConn: This is UConn’s 23rd regular-season conference title. They had 19 as members of the Big East. Temple is the 10th ranked team the Huskies have faced this season. UConn have beaten 29 ranked opponents during the streak and are now 240-61 all-time against ranked opposition.
1,000 POINT CLUB
Williams, just a sophomore, becomes the 43rd Husky to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
“When it happened I didn’t know,” she said. “(Collier) was trying to tell me and I was like, ‘What are you trying to tell me right now?’ It is pretty cool that my name will be in the books in that way.”
NURSE AS PATIENT
UConn guard Kia Nurse missed her second consecutive game with a stress injury in her right ankle. She is expected to be held out until the postseason. Nurse had been averaging just under 13 points a game. She is the Huskies most experience starter and considered the Huskies leader.
HANGING UP HIS WHISTLE
The game was the last in a 32-year career for referee Dennis DeMayo . The 63-year-old, who played high school basketball against UConn coach Geno Auriemma in Philadelphia, estimates he’s officiated over 2,000 games.
Auriemma said he almost got DeMayo to give him one last technical foul after the referee whistled Williams for her third personal at the end of the first quarter.
“He wouldn’t do it,” Auriemma said. “He’s mellowed a lot.”
Temple: The Owls return to Philadelphia to face Cincinnati on Saturday before finishing the regular season at UCF.
UConn: The Huskies host Memphis on Saturday before finishing the regular season at South Florida. That trip will likely be their last for outside of the state of Connecticut unless they reach the Final Four. The conference tournament will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. UConn would host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and is expected to be placed in the Bridgeport NCAA regional.