USF ends Big East drought with win

The USF women’s basketball team got back in the swing of things Tuesday night, maintaining its first halftime lead since entering Big East play en route to defeating Providence 86-72.

South Florida had five players in double figures, led by senior guard Jazmine Sepulveda, who ended the game with 25 points. Sepulveda, who had only five points in the Bulls’ loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, said her success came from taking the focus off of herself.

“I’ve been trying to be more patient,” she said. “At the same time, (I’ve been) watching the court and setting my teammates up.”

Sepulveda shot 50 percent from three-point range, on her way to six three-point shots, compared to one against Pittsburgh.

Sepulveda said USF coach Jose Fernandez pushed her and gave her the confidence to make as many shots as she did from beyond the arc.

“You know, I was just listening to Coach,” Sepulveda said. “He told me to take the shots if I was open, and I got that rhythm and just took the open shots.”

Fernandez said Sepulveda and teammate Shantia Grace, who had a combined 43 points and seven rebounds, made a big difference.

“You know we got 40 (points) from those two guys,” Fernandez said. “And when we get good guard play, we’re a very good basketball team. I was proud of them bouncing back after a tough loss at Pittsburgh.”

Fernandez didn’t limit his praise to those two players. Though the Bulls’ post players were scrutinized after the team’s loss to Pittsburgh, he said they have improved throughout the year, becoming one of the team’s strengths during Big East play.

With the win, the Bulls bring their Big East record to 2-4 with 10 more Big East games this season.

“This is the most important time of the year that we’re getting into here,” Fernandez said. “We’ve go to protect our home floor.”

The Bulls will get that chance Saturday when they host Big East opponent Georgetown.