PHILADELPHIA - After a lackluster effort in their previous game, Geno Auriemma was pleased with the way his UConn Huskies responded.
Kia Nurse scored 24 points and freshman Megan Walker added a career-best 22 to help No. 1 UConn rout Temple 113-57 on Sunday.
The Huskies (18-0, 7-0 American) came into the game off an 18-point win over Tulsa that left Auriemma extremely annoyed with his team, calling that game one of the worst performances he's seen in his 32 years of coaching.
Sunday's game didn't get off to a good start for UConn with Temple (9-9, 1-5) scoring the first six points of the game.
Then UConn got going. Nurse and Walker helped UConn to a 28-18 advantage after one quarter and a 24-point lead at the half, much to the delight of the sellout crowd, which was mostly pro-UConn and included Auriemma's mother.
“Once we got settled in, our defense became a lot more solid and we were able to get out in transition a little more and things opened up for us a little bit,” Auriemma said. “I thought the offense looked really, really good at times.”
Gabby Williams added 12 points and 11 assists for the Huskies.
“This game showed growth and maturity and that we can continue to grow,” Williams said.
UConn put up a season high for points without junior forward Katie Lou Samuelson, who missed the game with a left ankle injury she suffered in the Tulsa loss. She was still sporting a blackened left eye after taking an elbow to the face against Texas on Monday.
“We'll go back and see how things look tomorrow and see how things look Tuesday,” Auriemma said about Samuelson. “Make a decision if she'll go Wednesday or not. She's had issues on that side for a long time, dating back to high school. It's something we'll have to manage the rest of the season. I hope it doesn't keep her out anymore. She's never going to have a time this year she's 100 percent.”
Without Samuelson, Walker stepped up. She had the best game of her young career and for the first time Auriemma thought she looked like the top player he had recruited.
“When you see how she played today, it's the look she had out there, it's where I belong,” he said. “This is what I came here to do.”
The Huskies kept the rout going in the second half, hitting eight of their first nine shots and scoring 34 points in the third quarter - the most this season by UConn.
It was 90-43 after three quarters and Azura Stevens’ three-point play with 6 minutes left in the game got the Huskies over the 100-point mark.
It was the fourth time this season the Huskies passed 100 points in a game and the most they've scored in an American conference game.
Mia Davis scored 19 points and Tanaya Atkinson added 15 to lead the Owls, who have dropped six of their past seven.
“It feels good to have a good game against the No. 1 team in the country,” Davis said. “I looked up to them as a child and finally had a chance to play against them.”
UConn wore shirts in honor of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who died in 2016. Since the 2011-12 season schools across the country have been helping raise awareness of Alzheimer's that Summitt suffered from.
UConn: The Huskies have won 114 straight road games against unranked opponents. The last loss came on Dec. 21, 2004 at Arizona State. ... Auriemma has never lost to a team that is led by a former Huskies player or coach, improving to 34-0. Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, who was a longtime UConn assistant, has 10 of those losses. ... The victory was UConn's 147th straight against a non-ranked opponent and also kept it unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference since joining with 77 regular-season wins and all four conference championships.
Temple: The Owls honored former standouts Dora Lurie and Donna Kennedy by putting them into the school's ring of honor at halftime. Lurie was captain of the teams that won 67 consecutive games in the early 1920s. Kennedy finished her career in 1983 as the school's all-time assist leader.
UConn: at Memphis on Wednesday.
Temple: hosts Penn on Wednesday in a Big Five matchup.