For the first time this’season, the USF women’s basketball team is showing signs of’consistency. Defense was the main reason Saturday.
The Bulls (12-8, 3-4) held the Bearcats to 33 percent from the field, picking up a 64-47 victory at Cincinnati (9-11, 2-6) at Fifth Third Arena, USF’s first Big East road victory this season.
‘Cincinnati battled us the whole game,’ said USF coach Jose Fernandez.’ ‘It was important for us to withstand their push in the second half and get a win coming off that tough loss at St. John’s last week.’ This was the best game we played defensively all season.’
USF held Cincinnati to’21.7 percent from the field in the first half -‘5-of-23 shooting – and took a’23-17 lead into halftime. Senior center Jessica Lawson took over from there, scoring 14 of her’game-high 22 points in the’second half. She added’12 rebounds to help her team bounce back from a’57-55 loss at St. John’s on’Jan. 23 at Madison Square Garden.
‘I just took my time today and got a lot of points on’putbacks off offensive rebounds,’ Lawson said. ‘I also did a better job of hustling – which is something we have been lacking as a team.’
Junior guard Leondra’Doomes-Stephens, who had 17 points, teamed with junior Sequoyah Griffin to hold Cincinnati’s leading scorer, Kahla Roudebush, to eight points.
‘I thought they did a’tremendous job holding their best scorer to just eight points,’ Fernandez said. ‘We also played great defensively against’St. John’s so we are definitely finding consistency on that end of the court.’
USF has won three of its last four games. The last conference road victory was in March 2009.’
‘It takes so much mental preparation to get ready for road games,’ Lawson said.’ ‘Getting this win is huge for our confidence because now we know that we can win on the road. Our coaches do a great job of game planning and we did everything we were told, which helped us a great deal today.’
Fernandez said he explained the importance of getting a win on the road to his players before the game. With the victory, USF moves into a tie near the middle of the conference standings.
‘We had a week between games to regroup and get’better, and I thought our kids responded very well,’ he said. ‘They took the ball to the hoop and made the shots that wouldn’t fall last week against St. John’s.’ It has been great to watch this team improve as the season has progressed.’