HARTFORD, Conn. -- Geno Auriemma felt helpless. But the University of Connecticut women's basketball coach felt compelled to be helpful.
Shamoya McKenzie, a 13-year-old eighth grader, was a member of the Mount Vernon (New York) junior varsity girls basketball team with a dream of playing for UConn. While a passenger in a car on New Year's Eve, she was the unintentional target of a drive-by shooting and died after being struck in the head.
"I saw the writeup and the history of who she was and what she wanted to do with her life," Auriemma said Tuesday night following the Huskies' 102-37 win over South Florida at the XL Center. "I pretty much was driving down the road and I called Chris Dailey and I said, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And we did it. That's that."
Auriemma wrote a letter, and another letter honored McKenzie as an honorary member of the UConn team that included, "Once a Husky, Always a Husky." They also sent a No. 30 jersey, which was McKenzie's number.
The package from UConn arrived at McKenzie's home last Friday.
A visitation will be held this Friday and McKenzie will be buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Greenburgh on Saturday.
"It's sad and it's tragic and it's not something that you wish on anybody," Auriemma said. "I don't know that it makes anything any better. It was just our way of saying, 'You didn't get a chance to be here, but you kind of are.'
"You hear a lot of times, 'This kid wants to go to UConn,' or 'This kid's dream was to go to UConn.' Obviously I felt terrible like everybody else did. It got a lot of notice because she's a basketball player. I'm sure that all over America this stuff, unfortunately, happens to too many kids her age. I told Chris we should do this and Chris got right on it. It's not going to heal anything, but sometimes you just do things because it makes you feel good and it made me and Chris and our staff ... It just made us feel like we did something good."
Auriemma said he plans to get in touch with Northwestern coach Joe McKeown, perhaps Wednesday. Northwestern sophomore Jordan Hankins' body was found Monday in her dorm room and the Cook County medical examiner said she died by suicide. The Wildcats' game against Minnesota scheduled for Wednesday night has been postponed.
Dangerfield shut down
Only one negative came out of UConn's 90th straight win: Freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield will miss two weeks with a foot injury, Auriemma announced at his postgame press conference.
"She had a thing in her foot we have to keep an eye on," Auriemma said. "Today was to be her last game for awhile if it didn't respond exactly the way that we wanted it to. It's more of a precautionary thing."
Dangerfield is averaging 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists in her 14 games. She ranks 11th in the American Athletic Conference in assists and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Murfeesboro, Tennessee, native had five points, two rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes, including a spin move for a layup in the fourth quarter that almost brought the UConn starters sitting on the bench to their knees in admiration.
Auriemma is hopeful freshman Molly Bent can step up and earn more minutes.
"Molly makes just enough shots to make you think she can help you," Auriemma said. "She makes just enough plays. Then she's 100 miles per hour and completely self destructs when she is out there. Somewhere, we have to find that middle ground where she can make a little bit of an impact in however many minutes and not get into that self-destruct mode where she is struggling to get anything done. If we can get her to slow down, that would help us a lot."
If Dangerfield sits for two weeks, she'll miss games at SMU on Saturday, at Tulsa next Tuesday, and home with Tulane on Jan. 22 before returning for the Huskies' trip to East Carolina on Jan. 24.
"Things like this could happen at any time of the season," UConn forward Gabby Williams said. "So it's good that we're preparing for it."
UConn was USF's first ranked opponent of the season and it showed. The outcome was never in doubt.
The Bulls' 65-point beating topped its previous worse loss in school history, a 56-point loss to Northwest Missouri State 41 years ago.
During one first-half sequence, three USF players did not move from the backcourt as UConn's Saniya Chong raced for a layup. In the third quarter with the Huskies leading by 56, Williams dove into the USF bench to save a loose ball.
"There has to be some kind of individual accountability for your play," USF coach Jose Fernandez said. "We didn't get to the free-throw line until the fourth quarter. We weren't aggressive enough offensively. The 50-50 balls, Connecticut got. Like I told them, they were like a kid in a candy store and they took our lunch money on the schoolyard. There was no passion. We were just content getting our butts kicked. And that's what happened."
USF is 0-21 all-time against UConn and has never beaten a top 10 team.
UConn's four Class of 2017 signees -- Mikayla Coombs, Andra Espinoza-Hunter, Lexi Gordon and Megan Walker -- were selected as McDonald's All-American Game nominees Tuesday. Casey Carangelo of Thomaston and Sydney Lowery of St. Luke's in New Canaan were the only players from Connecticut chosen. The All-American Game will be played March 29 in Chicago. ... The Huskies are 8-0 against ranked teams with their next top-25 foe being South Carolina on Feb. 13. Their 65-point margin of victory was their largest against a ranked opponent. ... Napheesa Collier matched her career high with six steals.