TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - After a slow start on Thursday night, the University of South Florida women's basketball team kept pace with the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies before they were able to pull away for the 80-54 win.
The win was the 85th consecutive victory for UConn, and the first game of the BIG EAST season for both teams.
Andrea Smith led South Florida with 20 points. Her twin sister, Andrell, added 15 for the Bulls, who shot 26 percent (8 of 31) from the field in opening half and 30.6 percent (19 of 62) for the game.
After falling behind early, 24-4, the Bulls outscored the Huskies 16-14 in the final nine minutes of the opening period, and stayed even with the top-team in land until halfway through the second half.
The two-time defending national champions never trailed, scoring the first 12 points of the game and building a 22-2 lead before USF (5-3, 0-1) finally made its first field goal with just more than 9 minutes left in the opening half.
The Huskies (7-0, 1-0) extended the longest winning streak by a women's team to 85 games _ three shy of the men's record set by UCLA from 1971-74. UConn can surpass that mark by defeating Sacred Heart, Marquette, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 15 Florida State over the next three weeks.
Maya Moore scored 14 for UConn, moving within 9 points of passing Tina Charles to become the Huskies' career scoring leader.
The three-time All-American missed seven of the eight shots she took from the field, however she went 11 for 12 from the foul line and had a team-six assists while boosting her career scoring total to 2,338 points.
Dolson took up the slack offensively for UConn, going 6 of 8 from the field. Bria Hartley and Kelly Faris scored 13 apiece and Tiffany Hayes added 12.
The Huskies shot 52 percent on the way to a 38-20 halftime lead. Moore was limited to four points in the opening half _ all free throws _ but Hartley came off the bench to make four of her first five shots to help Dolson lead UConn's game-opening surge.
The closest South Florida got after falling behind by 20 was 14. UConn led by as many as 31 in the closing minutes.
USF fell to 0-10 all-time against UConn. Since losing by 14 at home in 2007, the Bulls have dropped their last four to the Huskies by an average of 38 points.
The Bulls will have 10 days off before they host North Florida on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.
USF-UConn Postgame Notes
- Starters for USF were Leondra Doomes-Stephens, Kaneisha Saunders, Andrell Smith, Andrea Smith and Daleisha Carn.
- The Bulls' first field goal came from Kaneisha Saunders at the 9:03 mark of the first half.
- An 18-point halftime deficit is the largest first half deficit the Bulls have faced this season.
- The USF defense held Maya Moore to just seven points in the first half of play.
- With 20 points in tonight's contest, Andrea Smith has scored in double figures in all nine games this season, including a career-high 33 points against Auburn on Nov. 22.
- Andrea Smith notched her third 20-point outing of the season with 20 points in the loss.
- A total of 5,144 spectators were in the Sun Dome to watch the Huskies and the Bulls face off, which is the largest crowd the Bulls have seen all season, on the road and on their home court. In addition, it was the second largest crowd to see a home USF women's basketball game in school history.
- The Bulls 26-point loss to UConn was their largest margin of defeat this season.
- USF has had at least two players score in double figures in all nine games this season, including five players that scored in double digits against Stetson. The Smith twins - Andrea and Andrell - were the high scoring duo in tonight's game for USF as Andrea and Andrell scored 20 and 15 points, respectively.
- USF is now 9-18 in conference openers and 4-7 in league lid lifters under Jose Fernandez.
- UConn continues to hold the all-time series lead, having won all 10 meetings against USF.
- The Bulls' 80-54 loss is their first loss this season when they have trailed at the half.
- USF is now 5-4 on the season and 0-1 in BIG EAST action, while dropping to 4-2 at home.
- A 30.6 percent shooting performance by the Bulls is their second lowest of the year.
- The Bulls had an outstanding performance from the charity stripe, notching their second best free throw percentage of the season, shooting 78.6 percent. They out-shot UConn from the free throw line as the Huskies hit just 75 percent.
- Porche Grant had a team-high 13 rebounds, five off the offensive glass, marking her third double-digit rebound performance of the season.
The University of South Florida Athletic Communications staff contributed to this article.