TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Top-ranked Connecticut was held to a season-low point total and still won easily.
Bria Hartley scored 18 points and Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson each had 15 to help the Huskies (26-0, 13-0 American Athletic Conference) remain unbeaten with a 63-38 rout of cold-shooting South Florida on Sunday.
USF (13-11, 8-5) forced the defending national champions to work hard for points, but UConn countered with stifling defense of its own.
"We don't necessarily talk about it. We just go out and play defense and figure out what we've got to do to stop people and shut them down, and we do it," Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said, adding that people often overlook that aspect of UConn's success because they are such a high-scoring team.
UConn entered Sunday leading the AAC and ranked sixth nationally in points scored at 85 per game. The Huskies also were first in the country for fewest points allowed at just over 48 per game.
"We're able to do something that's hard to do, you know: recruit high school All-Americans that score 16 million points in high school and get them to play defense when they come to college," Auriemma said. "It's not easy to do, but we get them to do it."
And what's the key to getting offensive-minded players to buy into his system?
"Once it becomes part of your program, you don't have to worry about it too much. You either play defense or you don't play," the coach said.
"If you come to Connecticut, you're going to be playing with a lot of really, really good offensive players, and when you put 10 really good offensive players on the same team, something's got to give," Auriemma added. "And the guys who work the hardest at the other end of the floor, they know they're going to play more than the guys that don't. ... If you came here just to see how quickly you could score 1,000 points, that's not going to work."
On Sunday, the Huskies got 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from 5-foot-7 guard Moriah Jefferson while holding USF (13-11, 8-5) to 26 percent shooting.
Inga Orekhova made four 3-pointers and led USF with 13 points, but Bulls leading scorer Courtney Williams was limited to seven points — matching a season low — on 3 of 18 shooting.