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Bulls rally to victory

The Bulls defeated the Saint Peter’s Peahens 66-58, despite one of the sloppiest games they have played this season.

USF looked sluggish from the opening tip-off, and that was a problem for the Bulls the entire night. As they used a new starting lineup for the sixth time in seven games, it looked like chemistry was a problem for USF.

Freshman guard Gianna Messina started for the first time in her young career. Despite going 0-for-6 from the field on the game and failing to score a single point, Messina did manage to add nine rebounds and eight assists.

The constant change in the lineup is something that coach Jose Fernandez is trying to fix as quickly as possible.

“We’ve been trying (to find one group of starters) – just look at how many lineups we’ve used,” Fernandez said. “Right now I feel like we have three solid kids. As they play together, we’ve got to get better.”

For the Bulls, things started rocky when junior center Jessica Lawson missed three quick shots on the opening possession. USF would miss its first six shots before junior guard Shantia Grace’s three-pointer made the game 4-3.

Then, later in the first half, turnovers and missed opportunities looked as if they would doom the Bulls. USF (5-2) went on a scoring drought that lasted nearly 5 minutes – which allowed Saint Peter’s (5-2) to take an eight-point lead with 7 minutes remaining in the first half.

Despite 10 first-half turnovers – more than in either of its last two wins – USF trailed by only four points at halftime.

“We held them to 29 points in the first half, and they ended on a 6-1 run,” Fernandez said. “I think we did a good job defensively, holding them in the 20s in the first half. But our field- goal percentage and three-point percentage was atrocious.”

The Bulls shot an unimpressive 33.3 percent from the field, and just 16.7 percent from behind the three-point line.

In the second half, the Bulls began to find their rhythm. Lawson became a force in the paint. She ended the game with career-highs in both points (25) and rebounds (14). Despite the impressive totals, Lawson shot only 8-of-18 from the field. She also feels she can do better.

“I think it’s funny because every time we go to a timeout or we go into the huddle everyone always says ‘Take your time,'” Lawson said. “I feel like I’m getting more into the flow of the game.”

Grace had another solid night for the Bulls, pouring in 17 points and adding two assists and two rebounds. Grace knew USF was playing a tough opponent.

“We knew they were athletic and fast,” Grace said. “So we had to come out, buckle down on defense and play our game, not theirs.”

Despite the victory, Fernandez feels USF has a lot of work to do before he will be satisfied with the team’s performance.

“The game ended up an eight-point game because we didn’t do a lot of the things we should have done,” Fernandez said. “I don’t think we took care of the ball like we should’ve, and we didn’t make shots.”