On paper, No. 11 DePaul represented another challenge; another ranked opponent on the USF women’s basketball team’s tough schedule.
But on the court Wednesday, the Bulls fought the Blue Demons all the way to overtime and defeated DePaul – the highest-ranked team to ever fall to USF – 79-77.
The Bulls weren’t that surprised with their victory.
“We feel like we’re just as good as anybody,” forward Ezria Parsons said. “We went out there and proved it tonight.”
It was a physical first half, as the Blue Demons kept the Bulls at bay with some strong play in the paint.
Blue Demons forward Khara Smith scored 10 points and pulled down three of DePaul’s 18 total rebounds.
The Bulls took their first lead late in the half on a Shantia Grace layup that made the score 32-31.
But the Blue Demons would respond with a layup of their own, to take a one-point lead into the half.
The trend continued into the second half, where USF would trade baskets with DePaul, causing the lead to change six times.
The Bulls got a huge lift when Smith fouled out with five minutes left in the game. The Blue Demons forward scored 17 of DePaul’s 38 points in the paint.
Jessica Dickson would tie the game for the sixth time in the second half at 64-64, and after DePaul’s Paulina Rubino missed a 15-foot jumper with time expiring, the game went into overtime.
In overtime, the Bulls outscored the Blue Demons 15-13, thanks to nine points from Dickson, who nailed four crucial foul shots to preserve the upset win.
Dickson had 35 points, to increase her scoring average to 25.7 points per game, which leads the nation. Even though it was Dickson’s third 30-point game in the past four games, coach Jose Fernandez was still impressed with his junior forward.
“The kid’s putting up numbers,” Fernandez said. “She’s shooting the ball well. I think she’s one of the best players in the country.”
Dickson was complemented by freshman point guard Shantia Grace, who had 11 points and 10 assists. Parsons also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“Ezria’s a great defender,” Fernandez said. “A lot of those rebounds were long, and she came out of nowhere to get those.”
It was not only a milestone win for USF, but it was also a win over a conference opponent, which proved a lot to the Bulls.
“Being our first Big East game against a ranked opponent, that definitely sets a tone for us in the Big East,” Dickson said. “I think we did a great job tonight.”