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Smith carries USF over Auburn

USF junior guard Andrea Smith’s performance from behind the arc Monday night was a memorable one. And fortunately for the Bulls, it came in a winning effort.

Smith scored a career-high 33 points, going 8-of-13 from 3-point range to lead USF (3-2) to a 67-49 victory over Auburn (1-3) at the Sun Dome.

Smith’s eight 3-pointers tied for third most in a single game in school history.

“She was National Junior College Player of the Year for a reason,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “She hasn’t shot the ball particularly well in the first four games, but she had two great closed scrimmages. We just knew it was going to come. The shots she took were good shots.”

The Bulls opened the game with a 16-0 run and shot 61 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the 3-point line in the first half.

Auburn didn’t score its first basket until the 14:13 mark in the first half on a layup by Jassany Williams.

“I thought we came out of the locker room well-prepared,” Fernandez said. “It’s a lot easier when we can make shots. The one thing that’s constant is us being able to defend well.”

After USF jumped out to a 22-3 lead, Auburn went on a 21-14 run over the final 9:53 of the first half to cut the lead down to nine with 42 seconds left in the first half before USF sophomore forward Tiffany Conner hit a 3 heading into the break.

Auburn started the second half on an 8-0 run, which cut the lead to 40-34. However, the Bulls responded. After a layup by senior Porche Grant and another 3 by Smith, the Bulls pushed the lead back to 11.

Smith, who was named the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Junior College/ Community College Player of the Year last year at Gulf Coast Community College, scored 20 of USF’s 36 points in the first half.

“We just wanted to work hard, and we took good shots and we just got mentally prepared for this team,” Smith said.

USF held the Tigers to 38 percent shooting. The Bulls travel to Birmingham, Ala., for the Samford Thanksgiving Classic this week to face UAB and Samford University.

“We got Nebraska, Wake (Forest), Texas, UNLV, SMU,” Fernandez said. “We schedule this way because we’re looking at the future. We’re looking at the Big East Conference.”