Tournament chance loss at WVU

Not even senior center Jessica Lawson’s double-double could save USF  on Saturday night.

Despite Lawson’s 22 points and 12 rebounds, the Bulls (18-9, 5-8) put a damper on their chance of making it to the Women’s NCAA Tournament with a 90-75 loss at West Virginia (15-11, 5-9).

“We made a lot of mental mistakes out there,” Lawson said. “They didn’t play better than us, we just made mistakes on the court.”

USF battled the entire game, stringing together a 10-4 run in the first half to cut the WVU lead at two — but the Bulls never managed to lead and allowed the Mountaineers to go on big runs of their own.

With West Virginia leading 51-45, Lawson hit a layup cutting the lead to four, but that was as close as South Florida would get. Coach Jose Fernandez said he attributes the loss to his team’s defense.

“When you go on the road and play in this type of atmosphere, you have to play well on defense,” he said. “We just didn’t defend, and we didn’t guard.”

West Virginia hosted a “Pack the House” event at the WVU Coliseum and gave away pink breast cancer awareness shirts, resulting in an attendance of 6,232.

“I enjoy playing in that type of atmosphere,” Lawson said. “I really can’t complain.”

Fernandez said USF didn’t react well to the game, and the team needs to realign their focus.

“We need to quit thinking about the NCAA tournament and start thinking about the next game to finish the season off on a good note,” he said.

Lawson, who had a career-high seven blocks, hopes this loss will have a positive effect on her team as they move into their final three regular-season games.

“Every loss is a learning experience,” Lawson said. “I hope that we can learn from this loss and take it out on DePaul.”

Lawson and the rest of the Bulls will get that opportunity when they finish their two-game road trip on Tuesday against the Blue Demons (20-7, 8-5) in Chicago.