Bria Hartley scores 18 as No. 1 UConn whips USF

TAMPA, Fla. -- Other than another lopsided loss to top-ranked Connecticut, South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said he felt fine.

Fernandez returned to the bench Sunday to coach his first game since spending five days in a hospital because of an allergic reaction to medication and watched the cold-shooting Bulls lose to the Huskies 63-38, USF's second loss to the defending national champions in three weeks.

In between the routs, Fernandez has had two stays in the hospital, although he's only missed one game, Feb. 2 at Louisville.

"I'm just tired," Fernandez said after the Bulls held UConn to a season-low point total yet still lose by 25.

"It's tough being away from your team and tough being in the hospital for the time that I was in there," he added. "It's definitely not the right way to lose 17, 18 pounds. That's for sure."

Bria Hartley scored 18 points and Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson each had 15 as UConn (26-0, 13-0 American Athletic Conference) remained unbeaten.

USF (13-11, 8-5) forced the Huskies 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 fewest points 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."

The Huskies also got 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from 5-foot-7 guard Moriah Jefferson while holding USF 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.

UConn won an earlier matchup between the teams by 28 three weeks ago, and the defending national champions had little difficulty extending their winning streak to 32 consecutive games despite playing without All-American forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who is expected to be sidelined three to six weeks because of mononucleosis.

"They made us do some different things that our kids didn't ever adjust to," Fernandez said.

The Bulls finished 15-of-57 shooting, including 5 of 18 from behind the 3-point arc.

"To win a game like this, you've got to shoot a lot better than we did," Fernandez said. "I think defensively, you can live with that defensive effort -- to hold them to low 60s -- but as poorly as we shot, it just doesn't give you a chance."