Like clockwork

USF 79 Georgetown 51

After the impressive career Jessica Dickson has compiled at USF, it didn’t seem like there was any more room for firsts. But just before halftime, Dickson was fouled as she launched a three-point shot and the ball bounced on the rim three times and rattled in. The ensuing free throw gave Dickson USF’s first four-point play of the season, and the team a 42-21 lead.

“I trailed the play … and I just shot it. (The defender) hit me and I fell, and everyone just said, ‘Yeah,’ but I didn’t see it go in,” Dickson said. “So (I asked), ‘What are you saying yeah for?’ They told me I made it, and I said, ‘Oh OK.”

She added, “I think that may have been my first. Yeah, I think so.”

Dickson, a senior, scored 24 points, leading USF (16-5, 6-2) to a 79-51 victory over Georgetown (11-11, 1-8) on Tuesday night as it earned its most lopsided victory against a conference opponent since entering the Big East.

“We found her, we found her in transition, and (Dickson) got some really good looks,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “I thought she filled the lanes.”

USF connected on its first six shot attempts, including two three-pointers by Dickson. The Hoyas never led or pulled within single digits after falling behind 15-5.

“I thought our kids really came out with a lot of enthusiasm and energy,” Fernandez said. “That was the key: We hit shots early, we were able to get into our press and control tempo.”

Coming into the game, Dickson had been struggling, scoring a combined 21 points against Pittsburgh and Syracuse. It marked her lowest two-game output since her sophomore season.

For the first time all season, Dickson’s scoring average dropped below 20 points per game.

“I talked to my mom, and she told me play my game and just calm down,” Dickson said. “I think that was a big help, her talking to me and just calming me down.”

Dickson came into the game ranked third in the conference with 19.7 points per game.

Point guard Shantia Grace recorded her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 of the Bulls’ season-high 25 assists.

“The big thing that stares at you is the 25 assists,” Fernandez said. “You look at that and (see) we shared the ball very well.”

The Bulls entered the game with only one day of rest after playing in Syracuse on Sunday, the shortest break between games this season. The quick turnaround didn’t appear to affect the team’s performance.

“Surprisingly, (fatigue was not a factor), we are in better shape because we’re used to playing a lot and practicing harder,” forward ChiChi Okpaleke said. “Our bodies are conditioned now, so we’re used to playing more.”

The short break may not have had an impact on Okpaleke, as she scored 14 points, but Nalini Miller and Daiane Packer were unable to play the second half. Miller strained her left hip flexor and Packer injured her left calf.

With Rutgers defeating Marquette and Louisville beating Villanova, the Bulls remain in a three-way tie for third place in the Big East.

With a 12-1 home record, Fernandez feels the Bulls must win every home game in order to obtain a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

“If you don’t win your games at home, you ain’t going to win on the road,” Fernandez said. “It only takes one or two bad losses to kick you out of the NCAA Tournament if you don’t win your league. That’s what’s at stake.”