The womensbasketball team (12-5, 1-3) losta crucial road game at Villanova(15-2, 4-0), 52-49, on Saturday afternoon, its third Big East conference loss of the season and first loss to Villanova since joining the Big East in 2005.
After trailing 7-0 in thebeginning minutes of the first half, the Bulls battled tocapture a 23-22 lead byhalftime. The 637 spectators at The Pavilion boarded an emotional roller coasterhighlighted by six ties and one lead change.
With three-tenths of asecond left and the gameknotted at 49, Villanova junior guard Devon Kane launched a desperate three-pointer and was fouled by USF senior guard Sasha Bernard, who contested the shot. Kane was sent to the line and drilled all three free throws.
USF junior guard Inga Orekhova threw a Hail Mary on the following possession, but to no avail.
Its a game we should have won, coach Jose Fernandez said.
Senior guard Andrell Smith led the Bulls in scoring with 20 points, but fouled out at the 5:18 mark, forcing the team to try to overcome the tough task of closing the game without one of its best players.
Smith has fouled out in three of USFs four Big East conference games this season; the Bulls lost in all three affairs.
Fernandez said he believes it is important to keep a player of Smiths caliber out of foul trouble.
She is one of our best defensive players on the court, he said. She has to play better with her feet and less with her hands.
Villanova senior forward Laura Sweeney bolstered the Wildcats offense by posting a double-double; she scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds to boot.
USF suffered a tough loss, but Fernandez holds an optimistic outlook on what is to come.
We have to move forward to get the next game, he said.
USF (12-5, 1-3) will play Seton Hall (7-11, 2-3) in another road game at 7 p.m on Tuesday.