The USF women’s basketball team is probably hoping its next game in the Big East isn’t a close one.
The Bulls lost to Pittsburgh on Sunday 66-64 when the Panthers’ Mallorie Winn hit a running jumper with three seconds left. It was the Bulls’ (11-4, 1-1) first loss to a non-ranked team this season and the second conference game for the Bulls decided by two points – earlier in the season USF beat No. 13 DePaul 79-77 in overtime.
In the first half, 16 turnovers by the Panthers allowed the Bulls to take a 30-25 lead, but Pittsburgh’s physical play inside allowed the Panthers to keep the score close.
Pittsburgh forward Marcedes Walker proved to be a problem for the Bulls in the paint as she scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half and pulled down 10 rebounds to help the Panthers to a 44-29 rebound edge over the Bulls.
But it was Winn who led the way for the Panthers, going four for six from three-point range on her way to a team-high 21 points. The junior transfer from Georgia Tech also led the Panthers with four assists and three steals, in addition to hitting the game-winning shot.
After Winn’s shot, freshman guard Shantia Grace had a chance to tie the game, but she did not get her own jumper off before the buzzer sounded.Neither team held a lead larger than six points in a game that included 11 ties and 13 lead changes.
Jessica Dickson stayed around her NCAA-best scoring average of 23.9 by contributing 24 in the loss, and junior Rachel Sheats, playing in her sixth game since returning from a knee injury, had 12 points and seven assists while playing the entire game.
Although Pittsburgh was picked in the preseason to finish 13th in the Big East, the Panthers are off to a 11-3 start – their best since 1992, in which they began the season 12-2. Pittsburgh also received a vote in last week’s AP Top 25.
Before the Pittsburgh game, USF’s only losses this season were to No. 5 North Carolina, No. 11 Michigan State and No. 3 LSU.