Apart from the all-pink uniforms the Bulls (16-7, 5-5) sported for breast cancer awareness in Wednesdays game, there were few bright spots in the close loss to St. Johns, and coach Jose Fernandez knew it would not be an easy game.
We knew St. Johns was better than their record indicated, he said.
The womens basketball team tried to get on its first three-game winning streak of the Big East season yesterday at 4 p.m. in the Sun Dome against the Red Storm (12-10, 6-4), but the attempt fell short as the Bulls suffered a 65-59 loss.
We talked to our kids about playing every possession and not taking plays off, Fernandez said. I thought we had a lot of mental breakdowns.
St. Johns entered the Dome with its senior guard Shenneika Smith coming off of a season-high 26 points in an overtime win over Georgetown.
The Bulls, on the other hand, boasted its freshman forward Alisia Jenkins who was coming off a second-straight double-double.
Both players delivered yesterday, but it was their supporting casts that proved to be the deciding factor.
Jenkins success was evident early on when she put up the first seven points of the game for USF in less than five minutes. By the end of the second half, she had 11 points and was just two boards away from another double-double.
Aside from Jenkins shining among her veteran teammates, the Bulls shot 31 percent from the field and went 0-3 against one of the best three-point defenses in the conference.
For the Red Storm, Smith matched Jenkins 11 points, but even with her leading the team, St. Johns also went 31 percent from the field was 0-1 from deep.
The game was tight at halftime with the Bulls trailing 25-23.
In the second half, St. Johns improved, leaving the Bulls behind.
The Red Storm started to heat up, improving to 40 percent in the field, while managing to win the rebound battle. Smith got her double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
USF was a different story.
While Jenkins ended the night with a third-straight double-double, scoring 17 points and 10 rebounds as the lead scorer and rebounder for the Bulls, senior guards Andrea and Andrell Smith were kept to single digits across the board.
The Smith sisters, who are usually USFs key players, couldnt catch their spark, and the Bulls were hurting because of it.
The Bulls stayed stagnant in the field. Free throw shooting, rebounds, holding on to the ball, none of it was going right for USF.
The Bulls lost the ball 16 times to St. Johns 12, while also going 64 percent from the free throw line.
USF, a team that normally averages 78 percent from the line had the opportunity, in what turned out to be a close game in spite of poor play, but the ball just couldnt bounce their way.
Were second in the league in free throw shooting behind Notre Dame, Fernandez said. We gave up a lot of points at the linethats something to definitely look at. We have to bounce back. Well practice, watch this game and get ready.
With another home game approaching USF as they tip off with Seton Hall on Saturday at 7 p.m., a win is a must if the Bulls want a chance in the NCAA tournament this season.