HARTFORD, Conn. -- If the University of Connecticut women's basketball team gave the rest of the American Athletic Conference hope with its narrow escape at Tulane Saturday night, it made a statement to the opposite on Wednesday night.
Sophomore Napheesa Collier had a career-high 31 points, shooting 13-for-14 from the floor, to go along with 13 rebounds and three blocked shots as the top-ranked Huskies clinched their fourth consecutive AAC regular season title with a 90-45 rout of No. 23 Temple before an enthusiastic crowd of 10,149 at the XL Center.
"We shouldn't have put ourselves in that position in the first place," said UConn junior Gabby Williams, who became the 43rd member of UConn's 1,000-point club. "But we did. We have to get back in that momentum swing where we're only going up. At this point of the season we can't afford to have any letdowns."
Sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson added 19 points, seven assists and six steals in UConn's 102nd straight win. Williams had 15 points to put her career total at 1,003. Senior Saniya Chong finished with 11 points.
UConn (27-0 overall, 14-0 AAC) will be the No. 1 seed for the AAC tournament to be held at Mohegan Sun Arena and will begin its bid for a fourth consecutive tourney crown with a quarterfinal game on Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m.
The Huskies have won 23 league regular season titles in 29 seasons, the first 19 coming in the Big East.
"I'm really proud of this with what we were able to accomplish so far," Collier said. "This is really exciting, any championship is fun."
Collier made her first six shots, missed a jumper with 1:18 left in the first quarter, then made her last seven. She leads the AAC in field-goal percentage at 68.0 and moved into the second in the national statistics behind Maryland's Brionna Jones (68.8).
At one point, UConn coach Geno Auriemma yelled at her, "Stop passing the ball."
Isn't that a dream come true for a player?
"Coach was telling that when I'm open to shoot it, and I was passing up shots and throwing the ball to someone who wasn't open," Collier said. "He was frustrated with that. But it feels good that Coach has that confidence in me."
The double-double was the fifth in the last seven games for the St. Peters, Missouri, native. In the other two games, she scored in double figures but finished with nine rebounds.
She has had at least 10 field goals in nine games this season, and not once in those contests did she take more than 15 shots.
"You'd be hard pressed to find anyone that's had a better 27 games than Napheesa Collier," Auriemma said. "It's just amazing the consistency the kids plays at.
"Pheesa is very much aware where she is on the floor at all times. She knows where the basket is all of the time. They talk about scorers knowing where the basket is. She really knows where it is. The kid never takes a bad shot. She doesn't force shots. She doesn't throw stuff up there with no intention of making it. She doesn't waste opportunities. She knows how to create space. She knows how to use the backboard. I wish I could say we as a coaching staff are responsible for it, but a lot of it is instinctive. And when she starts knocking down threes, I don't know how you guard her."
The Huskies never trailed Wednesday night.
After giving up the first six points, Temple (21-6, 11-3) was within 12-8 before Collier scored nine points in an 11-0 run. It was 23-11 after one quarter. Collier and Samuelson then had five points each in a 10-0 spurt to push the lead to 19 and a Samuelson trey made it 41-19 at the break.
The Owls, who earned an Associated Press top-25 ranking for the first time in 11 years Monday, got no closer as UConn put up the first eight points of the third quarter to up its lead to 30.
"That was good for us, too, because we know teams are going to come out hard at us," Williams said. "It's good that we fought back."
Williams would reach 1,000 by hitting a jumper with 3:35 left in the period. Teammate and classmate Kia Nurse, who missed her second straight game with a stress reaction in her right ankle, reached the plateau on Jan. 24 at East Carolina. On deck is Samuelson, who is at 963.
Temple received 12 points each from Feyonda Fitzgerald and Donnaizha Fountain and 10 from Alliya Butts. The Owls shot 27.1 percent from the floor including a combined 13-for-48 by their top-four scorers.
The loss snapped Temple's five-game winning streak which started with a 26-point rout of Tulane in New Orleans.
"Tulane played with a lot of confidence against them and they took care of the ball," Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. "Connecticut wasn't allowed to get back in transition and score transition buckets. 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, but to start the game we were giving them easy transition points."
UConn led by wide margins in points in the paint (42-4), points off of turnovers (37-13) and fast-break points (21-4).
Temple still holds a one-game lead over South Florida for the No. 2 seed in the AAC tournament.
The Huskies return to action Saturday against Memphis at Gampel Pavilion (SNY, 4 p.m.). Seniors Chong and Tierney Lawlor will be honored in pregame ceremonies.