No. 1 UConn rolls past South Florida
Hartford — Breanna Stewart tied a career high with 29 points and Bria Hartley added 26 as top-ranked UConn beat South Florida 81-53 on Sunday.
Stewart made five 3-pointers and the Huskies (21-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) were 14 of 25 from behind the arc.
Hartley hit six of her seven shots from 3-point range in putting up 20 or more points for the third consecutive game.
Courtney Williams had 23 points and eight rebounds to lead South Florida (10-9, 5-3), which had won five of its last six games.
The win was the 27th in a row for the Huskies, dating back to last season’s NCAA tournament run to the program’s eighth national championship.
The Huskies had just seven scholarship players available due to injuries and used just six of them after freshman Saniya Chong fell ill just before the game.
Connecticut struggled early, hitting just three of its first 12 shots from the field. The Huskies have not trailed by more than four points all season, but an Alisia Jenkins’ fast-break layup gave South Florida a 9-6 lead.
A 3-pointer by Stewart put the UConn on top 14-13 just under 7 minutes into the game and they led the rest of the way.
Another Stewart 3-pointer started a 16-3 run that turned a 22-20 game into a 38-23 lead.
Stewart and Hartley combined to hit 8 of 11 shots from 3-point range in the first half and UConn went into the break leading 45-27. The Huskies have trailed by a total of 31 minutes this season.
A 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer gave the Huskies their first lead of more than 20-points at 59-37 midway through the second half. The Bulls had been holding opponents to just 59 points a game.
UConn had 30 baskets on 25 assists.
Connecticut’s 27-game winning streak is the sixth longest streak in program history.
The Huskies will play the rest of the season without sophomore forward Morgan Tuck, who announced she will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a cartilage problem in her right knee. Tuck missed eight games after going orthoscopic surgery on the knee in November. She returned but hasn’t played since Jan. 7 because of a bone bruise in the area of the knee where she is missing cartilage. The school plans to ask for a medical redshirt, which would give her three more years of eligibility.
Tuck averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds this season.
Tuck’s loss means the Huskies will have just eight scholarship players on the roster for the rest of the season as they attempt to repeat as national champions.Guard Brianna Banks, who sprained her left ankle before Wednesday’s game against Memphis, was also on the bench in street clothes.
South Florida’s only loss this calendar year was by eight points to No. 5 Louisville. But the Bulls have never beaten UConn, losing their 13th straight to the Huskies on Sunday.
The Huskies have now won 68 of their last 71 games in Hartford. Stefanie Dolson had eight rebounds, to give her 928 for her career, moving her ahead of former national player of the year Kara Wolters and into sixth place on the school’s all-time list.
More than 13,200 fans showed up for the game at the XL Center, the largest home crowd the Huskies have had this season by more than 3,400 fans.
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