When the Bulls left Friday for their road trip to the west coast, they were showing signs of a young, inconsistent team at 2-2.
But with its 78-66 victory Monday night against UC Irvine (1-5) to finish a three-game sweep this weekend, the USF women’s basketball team appears to be shaking those signs off.
“We played strong defensive basketball all weekend,” said USF coach Jose Fernandez. “We were also active on offense and rebounded effectively by attacking the glass.”
The Bulls finished an impressive weekend shooting 52 percent from the field against the Anteaters, while holding UC Irvine to less than 43 percent from field-goal range.
The Bulls (5-2) beat the Anteaters 34-27 on the boards and outscored them 47-29 in the second half to overcome an early deficit and win their fourth straight.
South Florida was balanced on offense, as three players scored more than 15 points. Senior Jessica Lawson led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Jasmine Wynne and junior college transfer Sequoyah Griffin each added 16 points.
“We are still a very young team but we are improving,” Fernandez said. “We’re just trying to get better every practice and every game.”
The Bulls trailed by as many as eight midway through the first half but hung close and went into halftime down by six.
With 17 minutes remaining in the game and USF trailing by seven, Griffin hit her first of three consecutive three-point baskets in a span of 1:13 to highlight a 35-10 run for the Bulls over the next eight minutes.
USF cruised to victory from there.
“We battled from adversity to come back and win,” said senior Melissa Dalembert, who earned MVP honors for averaging 14.5 points and nine rebounds during the weekend tournament. “We were able to come together and get the job done after trailing at halftime in our last two games.”
The Bulls are home for their next six games beginning Friday night against Washington (2-3) and do not travel again until Jan. 4. to open conference play against No. 1 Connecticut.