South Florida topples Rutgers

South Florida survived a late comeback by Rutgers and finished out a 59-56 upset victory Saturday night over the Scarlet Knights at the RAC.

“They pressured us real hard,” said USF guard Janae Stokes. “They just pressured us and pressured us in those last four minutes. We panicked a little bit.”

With seven seconds remaining and the game tied 56-56, senior guard Shantia Grace completed a three-point play that shocked the crowd of 3,821.

The Bulls led by 19 with six minutes remaining. However, a tough Rutgers defense allowed a 17-2 Scarlet Knights run to tie the game at 56-56 with less than a minute to play.

“It was a big win for us,” said USF coach Jose Fernandez. “I was real happy with how our team played.”

Stokes totaled 20 points and hit six three-point shots. She said it was exciting to win against such a prestigious team.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” she said. “It feels great to be able to come here and beat a top 25 quality team.”

USF (16-6, 3-5) turned the ball over 19 times and went 5-for-10 from   the free-throw  line. Fernandez said his team allowed the late comeback.

“We just didn’t take care of the ball, and we didn’t make free throws down the stretch,” he said.

However, the Bulls used their defense to fuel the win.

USF held Rutgers to 32.8 percent shooting from the field and was beat 35-28 in rebounds.

The Scarlet Knights (12-7, 4-4) upset No. 17 Notre Dame on Tuesday, and USF’s victory has put the Bulls (16-6, 3-5) two games under .500 in the league, which betters their chance at the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulls played without freshman guard Jasmine Wynne, who suffered a twisted ankle against Georgetown. Fernandez said the team did a great job of filling in that loss.

“It gave the other kids a great chance to step up,” he said. “Folks like (Melissa) Dalembert and (Allyson) Speed all contributed.”