By PAT EATON-ROBB
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut had just six scholarship players healthy enough to play against South Florida. That’s all the Huskies needed.
Breanna Stewart tied a career high with 29 points and Bria Hartley added 26 as the top-ranked Huskies beat South Florida 81-53 on Sunday.
Hartley hit six of her seven shots from 3-point range in putting up 20 or more points for the third consecutive game. Stewart made five 3-pointers and the Huskies (21-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) were 14 of 25 from behind the arc, making 10 of their first 11.
“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.”
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 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.”
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.
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.
UConn had 30 field goals on 25 assists.
“We really try to get those people who are hitting shots the ball more, and we did that today,” said Hartley who had six of those assists. “It was just really exciting.”
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.
Connecticut’s 27-game winning streak is the sixth longest streak in program history.
No. 3 DUKE 111
DURHAM, N.C. — Tricia Liston scored 23 points and became Duke’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers as the Blue Devils beat Pittsburgh.
Elizabeth Williams added 20 points for the Blue Devils (20-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot a season-best 60 percent from the floor and never trailed.
Haley Peters had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Duke. Amber Henson added a career-high 13 points, Oderah Chidom had 12 and Alexis Jones had 11 for the Blue Devils.
Brianna Kiesel scored 19 points to lead the Panthers (9-11, 1-5), who shot 30 percent.
Liston made her record-breaking 223rd 3-pointer on a jumper from the left wing with 13:24 left in the first half.
No. 5 LOUISVILLE 88
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Shoni Schimmel scored 29 points, hitting a school-record nine 3-pointers, to lift Louisville over Memphis.
Schimmel was 9 of 12 from the three-point line and 10 of 16 overall passing her own record of eight 3s set against South Florida on Jan. 30, 2013.
Emmonnie Henderson added 14 for Louisville (20-1, 8-0 American Athletic Conference), which has won 13 straight game.
Ariel Hearn led Memphis (10-10, 3-5) with 15 points.
No. 12 BAYLOR 69
No. 8 OKLA. STATE 66, OT
STILLWATER, Okla. — Odyssey Sims converted a three-point play with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime to give Baylor a victory over Oklahoma State.
Sims, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer with 30.4 points per game, had a season-low 17 on 7-for-27 shooting, but she had eight rebounds and eight assists.
Mackenzie Robertson scored 18 points and Nina Davis added 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Lady Bears (16-3, 6-1 Big 12), who moved past the Cowgirls to the top of the conference standings. It was Baylor’s second straight win since back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Kansas.
Tiffany Bias scored 14 of her 17 points after halftime to help Oklahoma State rally from 16 points down in the second half. Roshunda Johnson scored 15 points, Kendra Suttles scored 12 and Brittney Martin added nine points and 11 rebounds for the Cowgirls (17-2, 6-2).
No. 9 KENTUCKY 68
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jennifer O’Neill scored 21 points to lead Kentucky to a victory over Arkansas.
The Wildcats (16-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference), coming off a stunning 57-55 loss to Alabama on Thursday, rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to hand Arkansas its fourth loss in five games.
O’Neill scored 16 points in the first half to set the tone for the Wildcats. She finished 8 of 12 from the field and made five of Kentucky’s nine 3-pointers. Janee Thompson had 13 points for Kentucky and Bria Goss added 10 including a clutch 3-pointer with 2:14 remaining.
Jessica Jackson led the Razorbacks (15-5, 2-5) with 23 points.
Jackson’s three-point play and 3-pointer during a 12-3 run to open the second half gave the Razorbacks a 44-34 lead with 17:11 remaining.
No. 10 SO. CAROLINA 61
No. 16 VANDERBILT 57
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tiffany Mitchell scored on a driving layup with 50.9 seconds left to lift South Carolina to a win over Vanderbilt for the Gamecocks’ best start ever in the Southeastern Conference.
The Gamecocks (18-2, 6-1 SEC) had never started 6-1 since joining the conference and won their second straight by keeping coach Dawn Staley undefeated in her third trip to Memorial Gym.
With the score tied at 55, Mitchell beat the shot clock and then stole the ball and finished off the fast break with another layup with 34.3 seconds to seal the win. Mitchell finished with 14 points. Aleighsa Welch and Elem Ibiam each added 10.
Vanderbilt (16-4, 5-2) saw it’s four-game winning streak end as the Commodores missed out on their fourth upset of a ranked team this season.
Christina Foggie finished with 23 points for Vanderbilt.
No. 11 TENNESSEE 76
No. 17 TEXAS A&M 55
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Meighan Simmons scored 26 points as Tennessee raced past Texas A&M.
Simmons scored nearly as many points (15) as the Aggies in the first half, as the Lady Vols roared to a 36-20 lead over the first 20 minutes and A&M never threatened after the break. Tennessee, playing without guard Ariel Massengale, snapped A&M’s nine-game winning streak in its first visit to College Station. Massengale suffered a face injury in the first half of UT’s Thursday victory against Florida.
Simmons was 12 of 19 from the field. Bashaara Graves, Isabelle Harrison, and Andraya Carter each chipped in 10 points for Tennessee (16-4, 5-2 SEC).
Courtney Walker led Texas A&M (16-5, 6-1) with 20 points. Courtney Williams scored 14 points, and Karla Gilbert added 14 points with 11 rebounds for the Aggies.
No. 13 PENN STATE 83
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Maggie Lucas scored 25 points and Dara Taylor added 15 points and 10 assists to help Penn State roll to a win over Minnesota.
Lucas scored 15 points in the first half as Penn State jumped to a 44-22 halftime lead. She finished with four 3-pointers and was 7 of 8 from the line. She made her first four free throw attempts to extend her streak to 35 in a row.
Ariel Edwards added 16 points for Penn State (15-4, 6-1 Big Ten), which has won four straight since losing to Purdue January 12. The Lady Lions face the No. 22 Boilermakers Thursday night.
Rachel Banham scored 25 points to lead Minnesota (13-8, 2-5).
No. 14 ARIZONA STATE 68
BOULDER, Colo. — Promise Amukamara forced two turnovers in the finals seconds and Adrianne Thomas made the game-winning free throws as Arizona State avoided the upset with a win over Colorado.
Amukamara had a steal, pushed the ball down the court, and found Thomas under the hoop with 4 seconds left. Thomas was fouled and made both free throws. On the ensuing possession, Amukamara forced a traveling call on Colorado’s Brittany Wilson with 1 second remaining as the Buffaloes were unable to get off a final shot.
Deja Mann scored 17 points to lead Arizona State (17-3, 6-2 Pac-12), which earned its first conference road sweep since 2011. Sophie Brunner and Thomas each added 12 points. Kelsey Moos grabbed 11 rebounds.
Jen Reese had 22 points to lead Colorado (12-7, 2-6). Brittany Wilson added 12 points and seven assists and Ashley Wilson scored 12.
No. 15 LSU 66, MISSISSIPPI 56
OXFORD, Miss. — Theresa Plaisance scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as LSU held Mississippi without a point over the final 3½ minutes of the game to secure a win on Sunday.
Diara Moore’s two free throws with 3:44 left to play cut the LSU lead to a single point, 57-56, but the Rebels missed their last six shots, three from 3-point range while LSU converted 5 of 6 from the free throw line in the final minute.
Plaisance’ layup with 2:02 left gave the Tigers some breathing room, 59-56, and Shanece McKinney followed with another layup with 1:13 left to make it 61-56.
Danielle Ballard added 12 points and McKinney contributed 10 for LSU (16-4, 5-2 SEC).
Moore led Ole Miss (10-11, 1-6) with 17 points.
NORTHWESTERN 63, No. 21 NEBRASKA 59
EVANSTON, Ill. — Nia Coffey scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Northwestern avenged an earlier loss to Nebraska.
Northwestern lost to the Huskers 66-65 in its opening game of Big Ten play and were coming off a loss to No. 22 Purdue 90-65 on Thursday.
The game saw eight ties and 14 lead changes.
Inman had 12 points for Northwestern (13-7, 3-4) and Ashley Deary added 10 points and five assists.
Tear’a Laudermill led Nebraska (13-5, 3-3) with 18 points, Cady had 12 and 10 rebounds.
No. 23 N.C. STATE 80, GEORGIA TECH 73
ATLANTA — Len’Nique Brown had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead No. 23 North Carolina State to a victory over Georgia Tech.
Tyaunna Marshall scored to give Georgia Tech a 51-50 lead with 14:39 remaining, but Myisha Goodwin-Coleman answered with a jumper and the Wolf Pack led the rest of the way. Krystal Barrett’s 3-pointer stretched NC State’s lead to 72-62 with 4:29 left.
Goodwin-Coleman and Kody Burke each scored 16 points for NC State (18-3, 5-2 ACC).
Marshall had 23 points, seven assists and three steals to lead Georgia Tech (13-7, 3-4).
No. 24 FLORIDA STATE 70, VIRGINIA TECH 54
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Natasha Howard scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half to propel Florida State past Virginia Tech in a win that snapped a four-game losing streak.
Florida State (15-5, 3-4 ACC) controlled the game from the opening tip, scoring 10 unanswered points in the first 3 ½ minutes and closing out the first half with another 10-0 spurt to take a 42-20 advantage into the break. Virginia Tech narrowed the gap in the second half but the Seminoles never let their lead shrink below double digits.
Virginia Tech (10-9, 0-6) was led by Uju Ugoka, who scored 22 points and hauled in 10 rebounds.