After trailing by 12 points at halftime against ECU, USF junior guard Courtney Williams put on a show to narrow the gap, but the No. 25 Bulls were unable to pull off the comeback win.
Williams scored a team-high 34 points, with 26 coming in the second half. Even with eight rebounds and her scoring continuing to dominate the game, USF was unable to get an edge, losing 65-64.
The Bulls (20-5, 11-2) shot poorly in the first half, going just 6-for-26 from the field for 23 percent. ECU’s aggressive presence early on led to 22 points in the paint before halftime. Forwards Alisia Jenkins and Laura Ferreira looked fatigued and struggled to defend the boards for the majority of the game.
With only 8:39 left, the Bulls looked to the scoreboard, finding themselves down by 15 points to a team they had beaten earlier in the season by seven in the Sun Dome.
Williams scored 19 points in the final seven minutes of play to help dwindle the deficit down to one with 19 seconds left to play. ECU (17-8, 8-6) missed four straight foul shots, but the Bulls never got a good look at the bucket, missing in the waning moments to give the Pirates an upset victory.
Jenkins recorded a double-double for the 17th time this season, with 12 points and 15 rebounds, but Sunday was the first time the Bulls came out on the losing end of the game when she achieved this feat.
This was also the first time since USF’s blowout loss to UConn when the Bulls were outscored in the paint, 38-24. USF’s bench was held to just nine points, bringing almost no relief to the starters in the latter part of the game.
Sunday was the Bulls’ first loss in nearly a month, winning 14 of their last 16 games, which put them in position to receive their first AP Poll ranking in school history. USF’s loss to ECU almost guarantees the team will be ousted from the top 25 in a national poll for the second time this season.
USF will be back in the Sun Dome on Wednesday to take on Tulsa (14-10, 9-4) at 7 p.m.