Bulls suffer early on

USF 49, Notre Dame 92

Nearly a foot and a half of snow remained on the ground at Notre Dame from a snowstorm that canceled classes Tuesday. The weather delayed the South Florida women’s basketball team’s arrival to South Bend, Ind., where No. 14 Notre Dame payed USF back for two straight losses over the last two seasons.

The last two matchups went down to the wire, with both games ending in overtime. The game was over by halftime with the Fighting Irish up 46-15. Notre Dame went on to win 92-49.

“We played very uninspired tonight,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “I told our kids (Notre Dame) was going to get up for us (because) we’ve beaten them in the last two years. They came out of the gate and shot the ball very, very well.”

Notre Dame jumped up 14-4 within the first five minutes of the game, hitting seven of its first 13 shots, which was made possible by playing their usual Princeton offense. They kept four players around the three-point line with another player at the top of the key. The players around the perimeter cut back door trying to get good looks at the basket.

They did, and their teammates got the ball to them.

The offense continued to work throughout the half. Notre Dame scored 28 of its points in the paint compared to 18 by the Bulls. The Fighting Irish shot 1-of-3 from behind the three-point line during the first half.

Andy Christensen, USF director of basketball operations said at halftime, “Notre Dame’s got 28 points in the paint in the first half. That’s a lot of points in the paint. You know, they don’t have to take any three’s.”

“They’re just killing us in the post,” he said.

While Notre Dame dominated the paint, the Bulls struggled from the field, making 6-of-26 for 23.1 percent from the field. The missed baskets seemed to affect the team.

“Notre Dame is playing great basketball, but on our end there’s absolutely no effort out there. The girls just look like they don’t even want to be out there right now,” Christensen said.

The lack of effort led to sloppy passing. Notre Dame forced 14 turnovers that led to 18 points.

“We’re not doing a very good job of taking care of the basketball,” Christensen said. We’ve got 14 turnovers in the first – I mean, 14 turnovers for an entire game, let alone a half (is a lot), so if we can’t take care of the ball better than that, we don’t deserve to win.”

The Bulls turned the ball over nine more times in the second half, but the Bulls started to score, posting 34 points after the break.

Notre Dame allowed two players from USF to score in double digits, with junior guard Shantia Grace leading all Bulls with 15 points. It appeared the Fighting Irish were trying to slow her down, and she never got into a groove.

“Shantia Grace is a heck of a player. She is really, really good. She’s very hard for us to guard,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.