TAMPA — With back-to-back road games and school on winter break, Geno Auriemma decided to let his No. 1 Connecticut women's basketball team stay a few extra days in sunny Florida after Tuesday's game with USF.
"They get to appreciate that when you work hard, there are some rewards that come with it," said Auriemma, who took his team to Timpano Italian Chophouse on Monday night.
The vacation started a little early as the undefeated Huskies made easy work of the Bulls, dominating them in an 83-37 rout, USF's most lopsided defeat in six years.
The game drew 4,290, most of them cheering for the Huskies and easily the most at the Sun Dome since Connecticut last visited two years ago.
The Bulls (13-3, 0-2 Big East) came in leading the nation in scoring at 89 points per game, one ahead of the Huskies. UConn (14-0, 1-0) played defense like a team trying to make a point, holding the Bulls to 11 in the second half.
"We weren't satisfied with how we were playing defense, so we definitely took it as a challenge," said forward Maya Moore, who had a game-high 24 points. "There's no better team to do it against than a high-scoring South Florida team."
The Bulls' top three scorers — guards Shantia Grace, Jazmine Sepulveda and Janae Stokes — had gone 9-for-40 in a loss at Marquette on Saturday. On Tuesday, they were worse, held to 3-for-29 shooting as USF as a team went 2-for-21 on 3-point attempts.
"Not much to say," said coach Jose Fernandez, whose Bulls scored one point more than their low in his nine seasons. "You saw the No. 1 team in the country play at their best. They took us out of a lot of things, and we didn't help ourselves with a lot of things we did."
Moore had 13 points in the first eight minutes and 20 by halftime; center Tina Charles finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Porche Grant led USF with 10 points off the bench; Grace had eight on 2-for-12 shooting.
After a few days in Tampa, Connecticut plays Saturday at West Virginia, while the Bulls continue a three-game homestand Saturday against St. John's.