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Bulls finish season seventh in Big East, headed to conference tourney

Freshman guard Jessica Jackson torched the Georgetown Hoyas’ defense Tuesday night in leading the women’s basketball team to a 71-57 victory to end the regular season on a good note and securing the No. 7 seed in the Big East Tournament, which starts Saturday.

Jackson scored 21 points, including 6-of-11 from three-point range, as the Bulls (19-10, 9-7) had three players score in double figures. Junior guard Jessica Dickson, who leads the nation in scoring, scored a game-high 22 points, and junior center Nalini Miller added 11 points and eight rebounds.

“Coach (Jose Fernandez) told me to go out and shoot the ball, so I came out early before the game and got in some extra shots,” Jackson said. “The extra shooting worked, and I just had a hot night shooting.”

Jackson hit three big three-pointers late in the second half during a 15-0 USF run that put the Hoyas away for good. Jackson got the start against Georgetown (10-17, 3-13) in place of senior forward Ezria Parsons, who sustained a head contusion against West Virginia on Saturday.

“(Jackson) does very well against zone-oriented teams, and she came in and knocked down some shots,” Fernandez said. “She’s a good shooter, and the team has confidence in her, and when her feet are set, she can knock down shots.”

The Bulls held a 42-35 halftime lead and pushed the lead to 11 points early in the second half behind four quick points from Miller. Georgetown, however, answered with a 13-5 run to cut the lead to 54-53.

Miller blocked a layup with just over 11 minutes remaining in the second half to spark the Bulls’ late run. The women’s team held the Hoyas to just one field goal in the last 11 minutes of the game.

“This was one of those games that you have to fight through the lullness, and we didn’t play with a lot of energy,” Fernandez said. “Then we got a couple of blocks and we made a couple of shots, and we went from there.”

Despite the injury, Parsons played 29 minutes for the Bulls, scoring four points and grabbing six rebounds.

“Parsons didn’t practice for the last couple of days,” Fernandez said. “I thought she played a good game for us.”

Jackson’s performance is a definite confidence builder for the Bulls heading into the Big East Tournament. Jackson proved she’s a scoring weapon on the perimeter and can knock down shots.

“She will go in the gym and shoot during her free time,” Fernandez said. “So it’s good to see a player succeed when you tell them to get in the gym and work hard.”

Dickson and Jackson carried the Bulls in the first half in which Dickson scored 15 of her 22 points and Jackson hit three three-pointers and realized she was in a shooting groove.

“After I made the second three-pointer, I started feeling good with my shot,” Jackson said. “My shot felt good, and I was consistent with it the entire game.”