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Women playing season the hard way

The woman’s basketball team sure doesn’t seem to like doing things the easy way. Through six Big East games, the Bulls are 3-3, their latest two wins coming after three losses by only four points.

However, among an upset over then-No. 11 DePaul and a one-point loss to No. 10 Rutgers, USF ended a three-game losing streak by beating Syracuse 73-55 on Wednesday and Providence 53-47 on Saturday.

The win over the Friars (6-11, 1-5) didn’t come easily. The Bulls were trailing 18-16 going into halftime, as junior Jessica Dickson was held to just two points in the first half.

“I though the first half was one of the worst first halves of basketball we’ve ever played, at least since I came here,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “Absolutely terrible. We’ve already played 18 (or) 19 games, and to come out and play the way we played – there’s no excuse.

“I’m very disappointed with our play tonight,” Fernandez said. “I told them at halftime, ‘We’ve already given away three games. We should be undefeated in this league. If you go ahead and lose this game at home, your season is over.'”

The Bulls’ dismal first half could be attributed to shooting seven for 31 – or 22 percent – from field-goal range. Dickson finally finished with a team-high 18 points, but sat out for four minutes after two quick fouls were called on her. She said she agreed with Fernandez on the poor play.

“I don’t think I was in rhythm (Saturday night),” said Dickson, who averages 25 points a game. “We definitely can’t come out and play like we did in the first half and expect to win.”

The Bulls travel to No. 8 Connecticut on Tuesday, where last season USF sent the game into overtime on a late three-pointer by former Bull Anedra Gilmore. The game also marked the first time a woman’s basketball game had gone into overtime at Gampel Pavilion.

However, Fernandez denied that Saturday’s poor play was a result of the team looking ahead to UConn.

“Perhaps the easy answer was they were looking ahead to Connecticut (on Tuesday),” Fernandez said. “There is absolutely no excuse for how we played. None whatsoever.”Dickson concurred.

“Personally for me, I wasn’t looking ahead,” Dickson said. “I take one game at a time, or at least try to.”

As disappointing as the first half was, the Bulls pulled themselves together and went on a 12-0 run to start the second half. The Friars countered with their own 13-6 run to tie the game at 36, and after a three-point shot by the Friars’ Chelsea Marandola, the game was tied at 41. Immediately after, USF senior Ezria Parsons hit just her second three-pointer of the season and stole the ball on the inbounds play, assisting a Dickson lay-up. The play put USF ahead 46-41 as the team held Providence to just six more points and improved its Big East record to .500.After the game, Parsons laughed about her game-changing performance.

“After halftime when Fernandez chewed us out – which we needed – we were still down,” said Parsons, who finished with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. “As captain and senior, I (knew I) should do something to get our team back in the game. It felt good hitting that shot. I don’t take many threes, so it felt good to make it.”