Bulls off to bad start

After pushing its record above .500 with a victory in its final non-conference game of the season, the USF women’s basketball team fell below the .500 mark Sunday with its second loss in three days in the opening weekend of Conference USA action.

The Bulls (7-8, 0-2 C-USA) fell 72-64 Friday against Charlotte and followed it up with a 65-55 loss to East Carolina on Sunday.

Though the Bulls went into the weekend with numerous injuries, including a few to some key players, the team had a chance to pull out wins in both games but still managed to fall short.

USF coach Jose Fernandez did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The biggest collapse came Friday against the 49ers (9-6, 0-2 C-USA) when the Bulls squandered a 13-point second-half lead. USF pushed a 34-28 halftime lead into a 43-30 advantage behind six points from freshman guard Jessica Dickson in the first 3:14 of the second half.

However, the 49ers followed with a 14-2 run to pull within one point, and later rallied for a 14-1 run to help close out the game.

“We got into a hole, but USF was making some big shots,” Charlotte coach Katie Meier said. “Then we went on that 14-2 run … and that really lifted our spirits.”

Dickson scored a game-high 29 points on 12 of 20 shooting, while Ezria Parsons grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Freshman center Nalini Miller never seemed to get on track, scoring just five points and grabbing four rebounds before fouling out in just 18-minutes of action.

USF fell behind early to East Carolina on Sunday, trailing by as many as eight points in the first half. The Bulls managed to cut the deficit to four points by halftime, and eventually battled back to tie the game at 27 in the second half when Anedra Gilmore sank two free throws.

The Pirates (11-4, 2-0 C-USA) then built another five-point lead before USF again pulled even at 39 off a Dickson jumper. However, ECU built a 10-point advantage during the next eight minutes of play and the Bulls never recovered.

Freshman Rachael Sheats scored a career-high 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting for the Bulls, while Dickson (14 points) was the only other USF player to score in double figures.

USF returns home to face Marquette on Friday before a Sunday matchup against No. 21 DePaul in the Sun Dome.