Bulls clinch spot in WNIT Final Four

Then there were four.

USF (25-10) won at home in the first two rounds. Sunday, the Bulls grabbed a spot in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament final four for the first time in program history by battling a tough road atmosphere, defeating St. Bonaventure (23-11) 80-66 in front of 4,133 at the Reilly Center.

“It’s just a blessing to be a part of this run that we’ve been on,” said USF senior center Jessica Lawson. “We’re really enjoying this moment, and we’re glad to be in this position. We really used our leadership well to pull out the victory.”

Shortly after the Bulls took a 53-51 lead midway through the second half, senior guard Jazmine Sepulveda and a St. Bonaventure player were involved in a shoving match after a collision, causing a scuffle between both teams. Both players were given a technical foul.

On USF’s next possession, however, Sepulveda nailed a three-pointer, sparking a run to give the Bulls a 71-62 lead at the 3:50 mark with a layup by the senior guard.

“That girl was holding on to me and I didn’t like it too much, but it felt really good to go down there on the next possession and hit that three-pointer,” Sepulveda said.

Marred by turnovers and missed open shots, the Bulls fell behind 7-0 at the beginning, forcing coach Jose Fernandez to call a timeout just 2 minutes into the game.

“Coach (Fernandez) was telling us that we needed to tighten up on defense,” Sepulveda said. “We weren’t hustling in transition, and he really put it on us to play better on the defensive end.”

The Bulls did tighten up on defense, holding the Bonnies to 35 percent shooting in the first half en route to a 38-35 halftime lead.

Four USF seniors scored in double-figures, including Shantia Grace’s team-high 20 points. Sepulveda and Lawson finished with 14 points apiece to help the Bulls finish 50 percent from the field.

The Bulls will face Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Boston College on the road at the Conte Forum on Wednesday at 7 p.m..

The Eagles (23-11) defeated Georgetown 65-56 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals.

The Bulls defeated Florida Gulf Coast and Mississippi to advance from the second and
third rounds.