Women beat WVU., close in on NCAA berth

The women’s team carried senior center Sharon Cambridge off the court after a 66-56 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday night at the Sun Dome. Senior forward Ezria Parsons, however, left the court on a different note.

Parsons fell awkwardly to the court, tumbling over West Virginia forward Chakhia Cole midway through the second half, and laid on the court for several minutes. The crowd honored the senior as she stood up and slowly walked off the court during her final home game with the Bulls.

“It’s always scary to see someone on the team get hurt like that,” guard Rachael Sheats said. “Ezria is definitely a big part of this team, and we really can’t afford to have an injury like that.”

Parsons was a major weapon for the Bulls before the injury, recording a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She was a big contributor to the team’s early success, scoring eight of her 14 points in the first half. Junior guard Jessica Dickson, who remains the nation’s leading scorer with 22.7 points per game, had a team-high 24 points along with three assists and two steals.

But USF struggled offensively after Parsons’ injury, going more than six minutes without a point late in the second half. West Virginia made an 8-0 run in that span to close the lead to 60-50. The Bulls countered with a 7-2 run and strong defense to capture another conference victory.

“I think defense is always our main focus,” Sheats said. “If you aren’t scoring but you prevent them from scoring, then you have nothing to worry about.”

The women’s team held the Mountaineers to six field goals in the first half (33.3 shooting percentage) and forced 17 turnovers in the game.

USF slowly increased its lead in the first half, but the Mountaineers hung around at the free-throw line. West Virginia went 12-for-18 from the line in the first half as the Bulls had five players with at least two fouls.

“We were in foul trouble most of the night, and I thought that this game had no flow to it,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “I don’t think we had four possessions without a stoppage of play, which was bothersome, but we needed to win this game.”

The Bulls’ (18-10, 8-7) RPI is hovering around 30, and Fernandez believes it has done enough to make the NCAA Tournament.

“We control our own destiny right now heading to Georgetown,” Fernandez said. “Will a win there get us in, I don’t know, but we can’t worry about that. We need to worry about Georgetown and the conference tournament.”

No medical tests have been scheduled for Parsons, who will be held out of practice and will be a game-time decision against Georgetown on Tuesday.