UConn rolls by Temple to clinch AAC title
However, sophomore forward Napheesa Collier declared after the 90-45 victory over Temple that this was indeed a big deal even if that - other a team photo being taken with the championship trophy - the accomplishment came without an outpouring of emotion from the players involved.
"I've really proud of what we've been able to accomplish so I am happy," Collier said. "Part of it is us adjusting to our new roles. Everybody is in a different role than we were last year so kind of molding ourselves into the players we have become is really helping us right now. This is really exciting for us. Any championship is fun so we are all happy about today."
Collier led the way with a career-high 31 points along with 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks/ She was 13 for 14 from the field (2 for 2 from 3-point range) and made all three of her foul shots. It was her fifth 20-point game in the last seven games. She has also finished with between 9-13 rebounds in each of the last eight games as she is on a roll that would rival anything UConn greats of the past have accomplished in the month of February.
One thing Collier did not do is record either a steal or blocked shot in the second half otherwise she would have joined Maya Moore and former teammate Breanna Stewart as the only Huskies to have 50 steals and 50 blocks in the same season. That will have to wait until Saturday when UConn hosts Memphis at 4:30 p.m. UCLA"s Monique Billings and Loyola Marymount's Jackie Johnson are the only women's Division I players to accomplish that feat although Alyssa James of Binghamton can get there with a steal in tomorrow's game.
Gabby Williams was a perfect 7 for 7 from the field as she had 15 points and seven rebounds despite missing the second quarter due to foul trouble.
The ability to get out in transition (UConn had 21 fast-break points) and defense on the Owls' perimeter players were among the keys to turning what could have been a competitive game into a blowout.
"We kind of pride ourselves on transition so the fact that we were able to do that today was good," Collier said.
Williams scored the 1,000th point of her career in the third quarter and fittingly it came on a jump shot since both Williams and Collier have been looking to be more aggressive at taking and making shots away from the basket to make the prospect of guarding them all the more difficult.
"Teams are trying to find ways to stop us one way, kind of sagging off me so I can't get it to her," Williams said. "They are kind of playing off of her but now they can't do that because she is hitting every outside jumpers."