After leading by as much as 16 in the fourth quarter, No. 23 USF held off Temple in the final minutes to win 55-51 at McGonigle Hall on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulls (17-3, 6-1) entered Sunday’s contest coming off a two-week period in which USF tripled its losses on the season as it was defeated by No. 1 UConn and No. 9 Louisville.
But USF, led by sophomore forward Kitija Laksa (16 points) and forward Tamara Henshaw (10 points, 10 rebounds), bounced back to hand Temple its first conference loss of the season.
Junior guard Laia Flores had nine assists giving her 128 on the season — the most for a USF guard since the 2012-13 season.
The Bulls dominated defensively in Philadelphia, holding the Owls to just 25.8 percent shooting, including an abysmal 5-of-27 from 3-point range.
Now second in the AAC, USF will host Cincinnati on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Sun Dome.
Men’s basketball blown out by No. 19 Bearcats
Playing without leading scorer Geno Thorpe against the top team in the conference, USF lost its ninth consecutive game Sunday when it fell to No. 19 Cincinnati, 94-53.
In place of Thorpe, freshman guard Michael Bibby led the Bulls with a career-high 17 points, aided by his 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Even with the career game from Bibby, USF fell behind early, trailing 49-25 at halftime.
Without Thorpe, USF’s regular starting point guard, the Bulls struggled to control the ball. They finished with eight assists and 24 turnovers, compared to the Bearcats’ 27 assists and nine turnovers.
“I’m not an excuse guy, which I’ve said many times, but obviously the injury to Geno Thorpe on Friday just totally put our team out of whack,” interim coach Murry Bartow said. “Mike (Bibby) fought hard, played hard, competed hard, but that injury really hurt us, knowing we were coming in here to play
a great team.”
Class of 2017 recruitment update
As National Signing Day approaches on Wednesday, it’s becoming more and more clear how the Bulls’ 2017 class will stack up.
USF lost three of its top commits this past week, as former coach Willie Taggart continues to reel in Bulls’ recruits.
Three-star athletes Bruce Judson (Cocoa) and Demetri Burch (Apopka), both from the Orlando area, de-committed from USF this past week only to commit almost immediately to Oregon.
Daewood Davis (Deerfield Beach), a three-star receiver and one-time USF recruit, also flipped his commitment from USF to Oregon upon visiting Eugene this weekend.
With mere days remaining before USF locks in its 2017 class, there are currently 11 players who remain committed. Of the 11 players, six are three-star recruits and five are ranked as two-star players, according to 247sports.com.