The USF women’s basketball team dropped its fifth straight game and eight of its last nine Sunday, as UAB defeated the Bulls 64-53 in Birmingham.
The Blazers (10-13, 2-8 in Conference USA) avenged a 73-64 loss in Tampa Jan. 6 and improved their all-time record at home against the Bulls to 13-0. The Bulls and Blazers are now locked in a tie for the 12th and final spot in the C-USA Tournament.
Utilizing a 12-3 streak in the first half, the Bulls (12-11, 2-8 in C-USA) turned a 13-13 tie into a nine-point advantage on the stroke of two Jen Kline three-pointers. The Blazers responded with a 7-0 spurt, making it a 25-23 game with 3:13.
USF had the initial basket of the second half, but the Blazers scored 12 of the next 14 points to stake a six-point lead. Kline’s fourth three-pointer got USF within one, 43-42, at 7:29, and 19 seconds later the Bulls tied it at 43. However, UAB pulled away from there, shooting 8-of-12 from the free-throw line in the final 2:30 to seal the 11-point victory.
“At the beginning of the second half, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Fernandez said. “And our three freshmen (Alana Tanksley, Kline and Tristen Webb) scored 40 of our 53 points. We can’t win that way. I thought we played well enough on defense in the second half to win, but on offense we didn’t get it done. I hate to say it, but not everyone came ready to play.”
One Bull who did make a difference was USF’s lone senior, Dione Smith. Smith, the shortest Bull at 5-foot-5, was second on the team with eight rebounds, and with her five steals in the first half, Smith eclipsed the USF record for steals in a season, which she set in her freshman campaign. Now with 95 steals on the season, Smith has surpassed her 1997-98 season by three, and the Bulls still have four games left to play.