Women’s basketball wins fifth straight, sweeps tourney; may lose second guard to knee injury

The women’s basketball team (5-0) clinched the fifth win of its thus-far-perfect season at the Sun Dome on Sunday afternoon, beating Robert Morris (2-1) 83-58 in the championship game of the Best Western Roundball Classic.

The win lengthens USF’s winning steak to five games, the longest since it started the 2001-2002 season with a record of 7-0. The streak is even more impressive considering the Bulls have had to deal with a short roster.

“I think we played pretty well with only having six or seven players in our major rotation,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “We’ve been pretty depleted with injuries, but this win is positive, and now we’re 5-0.”

Although USF remained flawless in the record books, the Bulls played the game against the Colonials without guard Rachel Sheats, who suffered a right knee injury in USF’s 66-56 win over Maryland-Baltimore County (3-1) on Saturday.

In the game against Robert Morris, the Bulls came out strong offensively in the first half.

The Bulls’ front-court trio of forwards, Ezria Parsons and Jessica Dickson and center Nalini Miller, who led the Bulls in the first half with 22 points, repeatedly took advantage of the Colonials’ weak defense. Parsons recorded just five points in the first half, but both she and Miller pulled down 13 rebounds, helping USF to a 45-32 lead at the half.

The Bulls came out just as strong in the second half, dominating offensively with a team field goal percentage of .504 while holding the Colonials to .378. The Bulls’ strong shooting helped them to a 27-point lead they held onto for the tournament win.

“I think our win was teamwork,” Dickson said. “There was a lot of passing, finding the open people, talking and just being enthusiastic.”

This is the second tournament the Bulls have won this season. They also finished in first place at the Image Depot Shootout on Nov. 20.

Without Sheats, three players picked up the slack with double-digit scoring performances. Dickson had 32 points, Miller had 15 and freshman Jessica Jackson had 11 in action at the point guard spot.

“Right now, we’re just playing for each other,” Miller said. “We just all have to know that everybody is going to come in every game ready to play; whatever or how much time you play, you just have to be ready to do it and put it out on the floor.”

Walk-on Courtney Hunt also saw the first action of her career and recorded one assist in three minutes of game time.

The loss of Sheats, whose injury will be evaluated with a MRI today or Tuesday, hurts a Bulls’ backcourt that already lost senior guard Tristen Webb in the beginning of the season to an ACL injury.