No. 12 Georgetown grabs victory with late surge

In a game that could have breathed life into USF’s NCAA tournament hopes, the Bulls came up short.

USF (14-11, 5-7) battled but could not overcome No. 12 Georgetown in the end, falling 54-50 at McDonough Arena in Washington, D.C.

“Our team gave a gutsy performance and played their hearts out,” said Bulls coach Jose Fernandez. “I thought we shared the ball extremely well and played with a great amount of energy but just got beat by a very talented team.”

The Bulls held a 19-10 lead with under six minutes to play in the first half, but Georgetown (21-4, 10-2) went on a 16-1 run to take a 26-20 lead into the break.

The Hoyas began to pull away midway through the second half, but USF guard Allyson Speed keyed a 10-0 run with a pair of 3-pointers to give USF a 48-46 lead with just over four minutes to play. But Georgetown didn’t relinquish the lead after senior guard Shanice Fuller nailed a 3-pointer.

The victory moves Georgetown to 10-0 at home this season, while USF has lost three of its last four games.

Center Jessica Lawson had 19 points and 11 rebounds – her eighth double-double in the last nine games – and Speed had a career-high 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-14 from 3-point range.

USF is down three regular contributors. Janae Stokes, the team’s second-leading scorer, and Sequoyah Griffin, the third-leading scorer, are suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Starting point guard Jasmine Wynn is out for the season with a torn ACL.

“I knew I had to play well because we were so short-handed,” Speed said. “Everyone knew their rolls and stepped up. We just couldn’t quite finish on top.”

Fernandez said USF has done well to make up for the missing players.

“I’m very proud of our team’s effort, considering what we have been going through,” Fernandez said. “We played … focused basketball and got some outstanding performances from our senior leaders.”

The Bulls schedule does not get easier, as No. 9 West Virginia (23-3, 10-2) visits USF on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Speed said the Bulls are hoping to end the season on a positive note.

“We will use this game as motivation moving forward,” she said. “We came to win and competed with one of the best teams in the country. We still have an outside chance to make it to the tournament if we finish strong.”