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South Florida falls to top-ranked UConn 81-53

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm •  Published: January 26, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — South Florida clogged up the middle against top-ranked UConn, holding the Huskies to just 14 points in the paint.

It seemed like a great strategy, until the Huskies began launching 3-pointers, hitting 10 of their first 11 shots from behind the arc in an 81-53 rout of the Bulls on Sunday.

"The way (UConn) shot the ball tonight, no one in the country had a shot to beat them," said South Florida coach Jose Fernandez. "Let me tell you right now, if Connecticut plays their best and anybody in the country plays their best, (the Huskies) are going to win."

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, and still has hopes of earning an NCAA tournament bid.

"I think we've got to win out, get Louisville at Louisville and Rutgers at Rutgers," Fernandez said. "Right now I think we are projected as a two-bid league with Connecticut and Louisville. If we're going to get three teams in, we're going to have to finish third and then do some damage in the conference tournament."

UConn's Breanna Stewart and Bria Hartley did most of the damage Sunday, combining for 55 points.

Hartley (26 points) hit six of her seven shots from 3-point range in putting up 20 or more points for the third consecutive game. Stewart (29) made five 3-pointers and the Huskies (21-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) were 14 of 25 from behind the arc.

"The shots were falling and everything was good and we were like, 'All right, we'll just shoot 3s the rest of the game," Stewart said. "Then they stopped going in for a little bit. But getting that inside, outside awareness really makes our team difficult to guard."

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.

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.

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