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Women’s basketball throttled by Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 73 USF 48

Another dismal performance on the road will likely prevent the women’s basketball team from becoming nationally ranked.

USF has been haunted by two buzzer-beating losses at the hands of Pittsburgh (15-3, 3-2) last season, but the Bulls were unable to make Saturday’s game with the Panthers even competitive.

The Panthers were already playing with a chip on their shoulders due to the Bulls’ first-ever NCAA Tournament berth last season, while Pittsburgh had to settle for an NIT appearance despite winning both contests against USF a year ago.

USF trailed all the way and never threatened Pittsburgh during an embarrassing 73-48 road loss.

“I’m disappointed in our efforts. We didn’t shoot well in the first half and we dug ourselves a big hole,” coach Jose Fernandez said at the post-game press conference. “You’re not going to beat too many people shooting the way that we did tonight.”

The Bulls (14-5, 4-2) connected only once on their first 10 field goal attempts and finished the first half shooting 16 percent.

Jessica Dickson and Shantia Grace, the Big East Conference’s second- and seventh-leading scorers respectively, combined to shoot 2-of-20 in the first half.

Pittsburgh shot an impressive 50 percent from the field and built a commanding 31-14 halftime lead.

In the second half, USF didn’t fare much better, as Pittsburgh opened with a 14-2 run. The Bulls finished the game shooting 27 percent from the field including 1-14 from beyond the arc.

Shavonte Zellous, the conference’s leading scorer, scored 25 points to go along with two assists, two steals and a block. Center Marcedes Walker scored 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, despite battling a stress fracture in her foot.

Walker hasn’t missed a game all year, but the injury has kept her out of practice for five weeks.

Freshman Selena Nwude recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to help lead the Panthers to a 45-33 advantage off the glass.

“We were out-rebounded by them,” Fernandez said. “Their two big players, Selena (Nwude) and (Marcedes) Walker each had eight rebounds at halftime.”

The Bulls came into Saturday’s contest allowing its opponents a Big East worst 41.6 rebounds per game.

During the Bulls’ previous road outing against Rutgers on Jan. 9, the team was dominated in similar fashion. The Bulls managed just 36 points, the lowest point total during Fernandez’s seven-year tenure.

As a team, USF shot 21 percent from the field and looked unimpressive after coming off a home victory against Cincinnati.

When the Bulls posted the second best start in team history and consecutive victories over Notre Dame and No. 15 Louisville, they looked poised to become ranked for the first time in the program’s history.

The latest Associated Press poll even saw the Bulls (12) receiving two more votes than Pittsburgh (10). But the ESPN/USA Today rankings had Pittsburgh ranked No. 25 with the Bulls five spots behind.