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UConn women top USF for 97th straight home win

Tiffany Hayes had 33 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 3 Connecticut won its 97th consecutive game at home, beating South Florida 77-62 on Saturday.

Stefanie Dolson tied a season high with 22 points and added 18 rebounds for UConn (19-2, 8-1 Big East).

Hayes, coming off a 35-point performance at Syracuse on Wednesday, had back-to-back 30-point games for the first time in her career. It was her 10th consecutive game in double figures and 18th this season.

Caitlin Rowe had a career-high 20 points and Inga Orekhova added 16 for South Florida (12-10, 4-4).

The win was the 790th in UConn coach Geno Auriemma's career.

Connecticut was up by just one point early in the second half before using a 17-5 run to take control. A three-point play by Hayes helped spark the run, turning a 38-37 lead into a 55-42 advantage with just under 12 minutes to play. Her rebound was the fourth by the Huskies during that sequence.

UConn outrebounded USF 53-28, had 20 offensive boards and outscored the Bulls 32-16 in the paint.

Rose hit a 3-pointer to cut UConn's lead to 64-53 with 4 1/2 minutes left, but another 3-pointer from Hayes stretched the lead back out and gave her 32 points.

She scored her 33rd point a short time later on a free throw after a technical foul was called on a USF coach Jose Fernandez. It was a physical game with 34 fouls — and UConn's Kelly Faris and South Florida's Tiffany Conner both fouled out.

The win moves Auriemma past Georgia's Andy Landers and into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time wins list.

Dolson had eight of UConn's first 10 points as the Huskies worked to get the ball inside early.

But UConn had a hard time shaking the Bulls. Orekhova, who had 13 of her points in the first half, scored seven straight to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 17-14 South Florida lead. A 3-pointer became a four-point play when she was fouled by Kelly Faris, and she followed that up with another long 3.

UConn responded with a 12-0 run and led by nine points before South Florida responded again. Another Orekhova 3-pointer keyed an 11-2 Bulls run that stretched into the second half and cuts UConn's lead to 36-35.

"This is probably the worst defensive performance we've had in a while," Auriemma said during the intermission.

Hayes and Dolson made 10 of their 14 shots in the first half. The rest of the Huskies were 4 of 16.

Hayes moved into 13th place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,589 points, passing Swin Cash (1,583).

Caroline Doty returned to the Huskies' lineup after missing Wednesday's game against Syracuse with a sore left knee, which she bruised in a game against DePaul. Doty has had that knee surgically repaired three times since high school.

Connecticut has not lost at home since the finals of the 2007 Big East tournament, and has won 59 consecutive regular-season Big East games at home.

The Huskies also have won 172 straight games against unranked teams. But their next game is on the road against a ranked foe as they travel to Durham, N.C., to face No. 5 Duke on Monday night.

The loss wraps up a tough stretch for South Florida, which has faced a ranked opponent five times in its last seven games. The Bulls lost to Georgetown, Louisville and Rutgers during the stretch, but beat then-ranked DePaul and unranked Seton Hall. The Bulls head home to face West Virginia on Wednesday.