Bulls win in second straight upset
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 00:02
The USF women’s basketball team entered Saturday’s matchup against No.8 Syracuse coming off of their huge upset win at No.10 Louisville, trying to gain momentum at the tail end of the season.
The Bulls (19-7, 8-5) have beaten two Top 25 teams in a span of four days with a 68-66 win over the Orange (22-4, 10-3).
With USF down 11 at halftime and shooting under 30 percent from the field, it seemed as though USF was losing its grip on the game.
But USF coach Jose Fernandez said he knew his squad wasn’t out just yet.
“Let’s just be calm. We’re not going to get it back all at once,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said to his team. “Let’s just play four minutes at a time.”
Fernandez’s wisdom paid off in the second half.
It was USF’s three-point shooting and lack of second half turnovers, giving up the ball only three times in the half, that erased the deficit and swung momentum in the Bulls’ favor.
Even with the Bulls’ second half play, it took them until the final minutes to gain the upper hand on Syracuse.
Two players that hadn’t had much of an impact through the game were key factors in the final minute for the Bulls win.
Freshman forward Alisia Jenkins, who has been battling sickness, saved a Syracuse layup with a well-timed block to hold off Syracuse, but it wasn’t long before the Orange found a way to score.
Syracuse rebounded the block and put the ball in the basket to tie the game, but junior Center Akila McDonald would respond with a layup off of an offensive rebound to put USF ahead for good.
“I was prepared to catch it because I knew Andrea (Smith) was going to be doubled, so I had my hands ready,” McDonald said.
USF’s less-than-stellar start is what helped Syracuse to its lead in the first place, going on a 7-0 run to start off the game.
The Bulls kept attacking, responding with three three-pointers in the first few minutes to tie it up at nine.
The game continued in similar fashion for most of the first half, with Syracuse jumping out to a healthy lead, until it was taken away by a barrage of USF three pointers.
USF has struggled lately in the closing minutes of the first half, allowing Louisville to go on a 10-0 run on Wednesday and Syracuse to go on a 13-0 run.
Fernandez said his team needed to translate its success from the road to the Sun Dome.
Four of USF’s seven losses have come at home this year, but they were able to turn around the team luck Saturday with a win over the Orange.
“We needed a signature win at home,” Fernandez said.
After the two surprising wins against the 12th and 21st ranked schools, USF could be ranked on Monday morning.
“Are we deserving? I think so,” Fernandez said. “We just beat two pretty good teams and I think this team has shown that we can play with anybody in the country.” USF faces
Rutgers on Tuesday as the Bulls look to improve their resume for March.