Huskies fall short in Florida

Tampa, Fla. - A depleted UConn showed little fight on Wednesday night against South Florida.

The Huskies lost their season-high third straight game, falling 65-51, in a Big East game at the Sun Dome.

Playing without leading scorer and team leader Shabazz Napier, UConn struggled mightily, losing for just the second time this season by double digits. Napier missed his second game in a row with a sore right foot. Key reserve Niels Giffey is out for the season with a fractured finger.

Sophomore DeAndre Daniels had his second career double-double, finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore Ryan Boatright added 11 points. R.J. Evans of Salem, who made his second career start, had 10 points and five rebounds.

The Huskies (19-10, 9-8) trailed 28-26 at halftime and took a brief lead early in the second half.

The Bulls (12-17, 3-14) responded with a 21-4 run and never looked back.

Martino Brock scored 18 points and Victor Rudd had 17 for South Florida, which won its season-high second straight Big East game.

Brock had three baskets and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick made a long-range jumper during an 11-2 surge that gave South Florida a 39-34 lead five minutes into the second half. Brock's layup, a 3-pointer by Rudd and a free throw from Zach LeDay made it 47-36 with 10:10 left.

“The second half was the key,” South Florida coach Stan Heath said. “It was kind of a boxing match back and forth, and both teams were throwing punches. I thought the second half, after the first two minutes, we got on a run, and we kept our foot right where it needed to be and finished the way we wanted to.”

Brock converted a fast-break layup to put the Bulls ahead 53-38. Consecutive slams by Rudd made it 61-44 with 4:07 remaining.

“A tough second half,” Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. “USF played very, very well.”

Huskies forward Tyler Olander left in the second half with what Ollie called a bruised left leg.

UConn won the first meeting between the two teams, 69-64 in overtime, on Feb 3.

The Huskies finish the season by hosting Providence at noon Saturday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

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