The USF women’s basketball team started 2004 the same way it started 2003 — with a game against Georgia. With Sunday’s loss to the No. 11 Bulldogs, the Bulls once again started a new year on a sour note.
USF split six contests over the winter break to stay at .500 and have a chance to enter conference play with a winning record.
The Bulls (6-6) have just one non-conference game left, Tuesday night against Niagara, before opening their Conference USA schedule at Charlotte Friday.
The team showed great depth during its winter games, with three players scoring in double figures in 10 consecutive games at one point. Freshman forward Jessica Dickson, who is averaging a team-high 16.4 points per game, led the team in scoring in four of the six games over the break.
Also emerging during the break was freshman Nalini Miller. The forward posted three double-doubles, twice leading the team in scoring and stepping up as perhaps the team’s dominant post player.
Florida State 65, USF 56
USF turned the ball over a season-high 29 times en route to its 13th straight loss to the Seminoles, 65-56 in Tallahassee. After going up by five with less than 10 minutes to play, USF committed 10 turnovers and watched as FSU went on a 21-10 run to end the game.
The team’s inability to control the ball overshadowed its 41 percent shooting from the field. Three Bulls scored in double figures, led by Miller with 17. Dickson scored 11 points while junior guard Anedra Gilmore added 10 in the loss.
USF 93, UC Riverside 59
The Bulls shot 58 percent from the field and outscored UC Riverside by 30 in the second half in a 93-59 victory. USF went 35-60 from the field, including 8-15 from three-point range, to post its highest shooting percentage of the season.
USF’s 93-point haul was its highest of the season, and the most the team has scored in more than two years. The team also posted season-highs in field goals and 3-pointers.
USF again had three players score in double figures, led by Dickson with 25 points. Dickson also posted a game-high nine rebounds. Joining Dickson were Miller and guard Alana Tanksley, who scored 13 and 11, respectively.
UNLV 74, USF 61
USF followed the hot shooting performance against UC Riverside with its second-poorest showing of the season in a 74-61 loss at UNLV. USF shot just 27 percent from the field while committing a season-worst 30 personal fouls as UNLV posted the highest point total of any USF opponent this season.
Dickson led the Bulls with 19 points, with Miller and Gilmore again joining her in double figures with 15 and 11 points, respectively, but USF could not overcome a 22 point deficit in the second half. USF rallied to pull within seven following a layup by Miller with less than three minutes to play, but did not score another field goal as the Rebels closed the game on an 8-2 run to seal the victory.
USF 78, Canisius 57
USF jumped in front early and took a 22-point lead to halftime in a 78-57 victory over Canisius. The USF defense forced 27 turnovers in the game, the sixth time this season the team has forced 25 or more turnovers in a game, and three Bulls scored in double figures for the ninth straight game as USF won in a blowout.
Dickson scored 16 to lead the team for the sixth time this season. Tanksley scored a season-high 12 points in the win and forward Andrea Armstrong added 11.
USF 82, Florida Atlantic 56
Miller and Dickson had 18 points and 10 rebounds apiece as USF defeated Florida Atlantic 82-56. The Bulls actually trailed by as many as seven in the first half and led by just six at the half before coming out of the locker room on a 14-2 run and shooting 60 percent in the second half to pull away.
The game marked the fifth double-double of the season for Miller, who leads the team with 8.9 rebounds per game and is second on the team to Dickson with 11.5 points a game. Once again three USF players reached double figures in scoring, with Tanksley joining Miller and Dickson with 10 points in 13 minutes of action.
The USF defense again stepped up, forcing a season-high 35 turnovers in the win. Miller blocked five shots in the game, the most of any USF player this season, and also contributed six steals, for a team high this season.
Georgia 92, USF 65
Georgia entered Sunday’s contest as No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, the first nationally ranked opponent of the season for the Bulls. USF fell back to .500 with a 92-65 loss to the Bulldogs.
Georgia opened the second half on a 23-3 run, holding the Bulls without a field goal for the first 12 minutes of the second half to lock up the win.
Miller shined for the Bulls in the loss. The freshman led the team with 16 points, adding six rebounds, three blocked shots and a pair of steals before fouling out late in the game.