PHILADELPHIA -- Gabby Williams looked like her All-American self on Sunday, though she's hardly feeling like herself.
The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's senior forward is dealing with a hip issue ("It's called a psoas," Williams said. "It leads to the hip flexor and it's enflamed and swollen.") at a tough time. The Huskies were coming off a rough outing with Tulsa on Thursday night and Williams aggravated the injury when she blocked a shot by the Golden Hurricane's Rebecca Lescay with 1:02 left. She walked to the bench in pain.
But that's the kind of thing she'll be dealing with the next two months as her college career winds down. As tough as she has to be physically, she must be as tough mentally.
"When I was a freshman, I wasn't tough enough to do this," Williams said. "I hadn't seen anything like this. I'm more mature now. I'm more invested in the program now.
"When people look back at a certain season, they think about who the seniors are from that team. If it's great, the seniors get the credit. If it's bad, it's the seniors' fault. It's a responsibility for me and Kia (Nurse) to put on ourselves and handle this."
She did Sunday. Williams recorded a double-double of 12 points and a career-high 11 assists in 25 minutes as No. 1 UConn routed Temple 113-57 in American Athletic Conference play in front of 3,392 at McGonigle Hall.
She was sore afterward, but at least she could smile and not grimace.
"I have to be honest with myself, knowing when I need to step off and when I'm good to go," Williams said. "It's hard to push off the hip too much so I have to adjust to that.
"The Tulsa game I should have been more honest with myself but instead I pushed it too much. My body comes first. I can't do anything on the court if I'm not taking care of my body. These last two days it was about seeing the doctor, seeing the athletic trainer, seeing the strength coach, and we're taking it day by day. It's not the first time that I've had to deal with an injury. I know how to handle it."
Williams, of course, missed much of her junior and senior seasons of high school with ACL tears in her right knee. She's been fortunate in college that she's dealt with mostly the aches and pains that come with a season. Since not being called on by coach Geno Auriemma in a Nov. 17, 2014, overtime loss to Stanford, the Sparks, Nevada, native has played in 130 consecutive games.
UConn has won 129 of them.
Sunday's game was decided early. The Huskies (18-0, 7-0 AAC) spotted Temple the first six points before going on a 14-2 run to take the lead for good. It was 28-18 after one quarter and the Owls (9-9, 1-5) never got it back in single figures. A Williams bank shot made it 56-32 at halftime and a three-point play by Azura Stevens with 6:00 left got UConn into triple figures.
"I thought, given that she's probably not 100 percent, that Gabby didn't have her usual spring and her explosiveness and energy may not have been the same," Auriemma said. "But she still creates a lot of things out there for us.
"The one thing I've learned about track athletes is they are very temperamental. They are like fine-tuned race cars. The minute anything little thing is off, they're not quite right. She wants to be able to go, be able to explode, and do all those things. When she knows she can't she gets a little tentative. All in all, she did great."
Williams had assists to all six teammates she saw any time on the court with. Napheesa Collier was the top beneficiary with three, while two each went to Nurse, Stevens and Megan Walker, and one apiece went to Crystal Dangerfield and Kyla Irwin. After having five assists in the first half, she had six assists in the opening six minutes of the third quarter. She came out for good with 3:03 left in the period.
Her 11th assist was on a Walker 3-pointer, which topped her previous best of 10 (which she had twice). The double-double was her third of the season and 23rd of her career.
"I didn't know I had so many assists," Williams said. "I just tried to get the offense going and that's where the assists came from in just finding the open guys. When I did, good things happened."
She also had two steals and three rebounds Sunday. She moved past Renee Montgomery for eighth in steals (267) and pulled within 33 rebounds of No. 10 Swin Cash on the Huskies' all-time lists. Her next target on UConn's scoring list is Sue Bird, as she came up six points short on Sunday. Bird was on press row working as an analyst on the ESPN2 broadcast.
The Huskies placed six players in double figures, as Williams was joined by Nurse (24), Walker (season-high 22), Collier (13), Stevens (13) and Dangerfield (12).
And as they head to Memphis for Wednesday's AAC game with the Tigers (SNY, 1:30 p.m.), they can all thank Williams for helping them get there.
"We knew we had to be better than Thursday," Williams said. "It wasn't perfect, but it was a good start in the right direction."