HARTFORD, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson has this habit -- not one of her best, she admits -- of when she drives to the basket and feels contact, she calls out, "And one," looking for a foul call.
The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior All-American's aggressive approach has developed since she first arrived here but she has taken her attack mode to another level in the last month even as she deals with an injured left ankle. It's one of the reasons that the buzz around her national Player of the Year candidacy continues to grow.
Samuelson's aggressiveness was rewarded Sunday as she completed a trio of the old-fashioned three-point plays to go along with four of her specialty, the 3-point shot. Her 27 points paced six players in double figures as No. 1 UConn routed Temple 106-45 in American Athletic Conference action before 13,110 at XL Center.
"Lou's not afraid of contact," UConn All-American Gabby Williams said. "She's been reading the defense really well and anticipating, and that's what makes her so dangerous from all areas of the court.
"You have to pick your poison. She has worked so hard on being more than just a spot-up shooter. I think she knew she had that potential when she came here, and I'm glad she is kind of in her zone now."
In the eight games since missing the first meeting with Temple on Jan. 21 after aggravating the ankle injury three days earlier, Samuelson is averaging 21.0 points on 58 percent shooting from the floor, 50 percent from 3-point land and 90 percent from the foul line. She's also averaging 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8.
On Sunday, the Huntington Beach, California, native went 9-for-11 from the floor including 4-for-5 from behind the arc, and hit all five of her free throws while adding four rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes. She did not play in the fourth quarter.
"With Lou's game you always see growth and her passing game this year has been absolutely incredible," UConn guard Kia Nurse said.
"My shot feels good," Samuelson added. "In practice I feel like I have been consistently doing things that I'm translating into games. I feel like I've been taking good shots and not forcing things. I've been playing and taking the shots from where they come from. I'm not too focused on scoring, but it seems like it comes more when I'm trying to just be all over the court and not looking to score."
UConn (26-0, 13-0 AAC) maintained its two-game lead in the league race over South Florida with three games to go. The Bulls (11-2) topped Central Florida in overtime Sunday. The Huskies can clinch a share of the AAC regular season title with a win Wednesday night at Tulane (SNY, 8 p.m.). UConn then concludes the regular season at SMU on Saturday and home with USF at Gampel Pavilion on Monday, Feb. 26.
The win was also the 100th for Huskies' juniors Samuelson and All-American Napheesa Collier. They are the third consecutive junior class (Nurse and Williams in 2017, Saniya Chong and Tierney Lawlor in 2016) and fourth overall (Tiffany Hayes in 2011) to get to 100 wins in 101 games.
No senior class in the AAC has 100 wins, though USF is closing in with 97.
"Lou and I came in just wanting to help the team out however we could no matter what our role was," Collier said. "Freshman year, obviously, it was small with the team we had and then last year and this year it's been a little bigger. We came in with the mindset to do whatever we could to help the team win, and I think that is what we have done so far."
But the juniors are far from satisfied.
"It will be awhile before I reflect about it since we're still in the middle of our season," Samuelson said. "And the biggest part of the season is coming up so we can't get caught up in what we've already done. Phee and I are grateful that we got this opportunity and we're going to keep working to add more to that total."
UConn beat Temple by 56 four weeks ago and never gave the Owls, who started four freshmen Sunday, a chance.
The Huskies scored the first six points. Williams then had the last six points of a 9-0 run that made it 15-3. Samuelson netted the next 11 Huskies' points and two free throws by Nurse made it 32-13 after one quarter.
A second 9-0 run, capped by back-to-back baskets by Azura Stevens made it 44-18 and it was 54-26 at the break. Temple (10-16, 2-11) got no closer in dropping its fourth straight and 11th in 12 games.
Nurse (16), Collier (12), Stevens (11), Williams (10) and Megan Walker (10) joined Samuelson in double figures. Williams and Stevens had eight rebounds each while Williams and Collier joined Samuelson with five assists. Williams also had the defensive assignment against AAC leading scorer Tanaya Atkinson and helped hold the Owls' senior and Connecticut native to five points on 2-for-12 shooting.
"Everyone was all-in today and knew what we needed to do," Samuelson said. "You could see it with that second group in the fourth quarter. They played probably as well as they could. We're excited that we could have everyone contribute. That was good to see."
With Batouly Camara, Kyla Irwin and Mikayla Coombs playing the whole fourth quarter and Walker, Molly Bent and Lexi Gordon splitting almost all the remaining minutes, the Huskies outscored Temple 25-10 in the period.
"This was one of the few times where we really, really played well as a unit with that second group," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It's good, because kids come to practice every day and work really, really hard, and you want them to have some confidence and have some fun playing the game. It looked like they were having fun at the end of the game."
UConn had huge advantages in points in the paint (60-10), points off of turnovers (29-2), and bench points (39-8). The Huskies shot 61.2 percent from the floor compared to the Owls' 23.8 percent, while winning the battle of the boards 49-24.
Emani Mayo played the entire 40 minutes and led Temple with 17 points.