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Women drop critical game to Cardinals

This just in: Jessica Dickson is human.

The nation’s leading scorer went 4-for-17 from the field in the women’s basketball team’s 65-56 loss to Louisville at Freedom Hall on Tuesday. Dickson’s 12 points were nearly 10 behind her NCAA-best scoring average of 22.7 points per game. For the past six games, Dickson is averaging a very mundane 16.5 points per contest, a fact that has not eluded coach Jose Fernandez.

“She’s been doing it every night for us all year long,” Fernandez said. “She’s going to have a couple of nights that are off. I mean, she’s human.”

Dickson’s off-night shooting contributed to the Bulls’ lack of a lead in the second half, and two crucial turnovers and a couple of air balls by Dickson in the final minutes of the game helped Louisville pull away.

“It was just an off night,” Dickson said. “I mean, I got the looks, it just didn’t go in.”

But the Bulls weren’t limited to miscues from Dickson. At one point in the second half, the Bulls were tied 46-46. But after that, Fernandez said there was an apparent lack of hustle by his perimeter players.

“(Dickson) wasn’t the problem because we were able to score,” Fernandez said. “We just didn’t guard anybody. They got every loose ball, and they outrebounded us inside.”

Besides hustle, the Cardinals used size and depth to tire the Bulls.

The size – 6-foot-3 forward Jazz Covington – and the depth – freshman bench player Angel McCoughtry – combined for 32 points. McCoughtry had a game-high 12 rebounds to help the Cardinals outrebound the Bulls 37-28.

“Everybody was tired,” senior forward Ezria Parsons said. “But I think that they out hustled us and had more effort and more want. I think that’s something that we have to work on.”

Parsons had seven rebounds and a team-high 17 points. Fernandez was pleased with Parsons on a night when the rest of his team seemed to lack intensity.

“I’m proud of (Parsons),” Fernandez said. “Parsons stepped up, and she made the shots. I thought (she) had a good game offensively.”

It was only the fifth game this season in which Dickson has not led the Bulls in scoring, something Dickson attributes to physical fatigue.

“I think it’s from being tired. I’m tired. My body’s tired,” Dickson said. “We got two more games – we got to play it out.”

Fernandez let his team know the importance of Tuesday’s game prior to tip-off when he addressed them in the locker room.

“I said, ‘You win this game, you’re definitely in the NCAA Tournament,'” Fernandez said. “Now we have to win the next two.”

It’s not clear what the Bulls need to do to make the tournament, but whatever it is, the Bulls know they didn’t do it Tuesday night.

“We needed to step up and accept the challenge,” Parsons said. “But we failed to do that.”