TCU 65, USF 57
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With her eyes still red and puffy following USF’s 65-57 loss to TCU in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament on Friday, Anedra Gilmore strolled into the press conference with coach Jose Fernandez by her side. Gilmore was her usual self during the game, chasing down loose balls, pestering offensive players and getting ridiculous shots to fall late in the game as the Bulls tried to catch the Horned Frogs, who led for the entire game.
But after the game, Gilmore held back tears as she answered questions.
“I think we could have played a little harder in the first half,” said the senior point guard, who scored 13 points while playing the entire 40 minutes. “We had them on the ropes in the second half, and I think if we applied the same pressure in the first half, it would have been a different game.”
With USF struggling offensively in the first half, TCU led by as many as 11 and held a 33-25 lead at the break.
In the latter half, the Bulls found themselves down by 14 before Gilmore and sophomore Jessica Dickson started to heat up. Dickson, who had a team-high 15 points, made a lay-up with 8:15 left to cut the lead to eight. After the Horned Frogs built their lead to 11 with about four minutes to go, Gilmore converted a three-point play to get the Bulls back within eight. But a foul on the impending inbounds play put TCU on the line and USF out of the game.
For the game, the Bulls got off 18 more shots than TCU but converted on only 31 percent.
“When you shoot 31 percent, you’re not going to beat many people,” Fernandez said. “That was our big problem.”
TCU’s Sandora Irvin, the NCAA’s all-time leading shot blocker and a potential top-five pick in next season’s WNBA draft — not to mention the niece of former Dallas Cowboys’ receiver Michael Irvin — had a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds to go along with her seven blocks.
After the game, Fernandez was adamant in describing how his team should take the defeat.
“I told our kids we can’t hold our heads on this loss,” Fernandez said. “It wasn’t even close to being one the best games we’ve played this year. We’re not going to hang our heads because we won 20 games this year.”
Despite being effectively out of the NCAA Tournament, the Bulls can find comfort in the fact they will be playing in the WNIT later this month.
“Our kids played hard, and I’m just very glad they didn’t give up,” Fernandez said. “But I still think we have a lot of basketball left to play.”