Bulls fail to weather storm

In a defensive struggle that was decided by quick scoring runs, the USF women’s basketball team came up one rally short.

USF fell to Miami 62-55 in its home opener at the Sun Dome Tuesday night. The Bulls led 32-26 at halftime, but a 13-0 run by the Hurricanes early in the second half put USF in a hole from which it would not escape. The Bulls went nearly six minutes without a score during the run, and several subsequent rallies by USF were cut short.

The Hurricanes, who entered the contest averaging more than 90 points per game, were held in check by USF, but the Bulls could not capitalize.

“We were up six with about 15 (minutes) to go, and I think we missed a couple (easy shots) inside, and that was what really hurt us,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “But I was very impressed with how well we played defensively … in some areas on the defensive end I was very happy, but we just didn’t get the crucial stops at some points in the game.”

Miami’s Tamara James, who entered the contest averaging more than 30 points per game, was held to nine points by USF. The Bulls out rebounded Miami 55-39 and came up with six blocks and seven steals.

USF improved upon some areas Fernandez identified as needing attention after the team’s opening weekend. Miller tied for tenth in team history with 20 rebounds and the team had just 16 personal fouls in the game. For the second straight game, Miller tied for fourth in team history with four blocks. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor shooting performance.

The team shot just 30 percent from the field, with forwards Nalini Miller, Jessica Dickson and Rae Rae Sayles shooting a combined 11-44.

“Your perimeter players need to knock a couple of shots down if you’re going to win,” Fernandez said. “You have to shoot well outside to get the respect of the other team’s defense. They basically took away our inside game, and we got good shots inside their zone defense, but if you don’t make shots … I thought our defense held us in the game. But they outscored us by 13 points in the second half because we just could not put the ball in the basket when we needed to.”

Dickson scored in double figures for the third straight game, scoring 14 points in 36 minutes. However, she said her shooting needs to improve.

“I think what I need to do is get in the gym, put up more shots and practice,” she said. “Sometimes it is my shot selection. I will settle for a jumper instead of taking it to the hole. I have to work hard and start getting my shots to fall, though.”

The contest was the first of four straight home games for USF, which will host the Best Western Roundball Classic this weekend. Miller said the team needs to put the game behind them and prepare for the rest of the homestand.

“We can’t look back, we have to look forward,” Miller said. “We still have conference to play, we still have the whole season ahead of us. We just need some wins. We need to move on and get ready for the next game.”