Bulls let lead slip, lose sixth straight

Despite an impressive first half Sunday, the USF women’s basketball teamslipped in the second, losing 61-55 to Marquette(15-3, 3-2) in their sixth straight loss.

Efforts by junior guard Andrea Smith, who scored 17 points, and senior forward Leondra Doomes-Stephens, who scored 13, were not enough to lift the Bulls above the Golden Eagles.

“Down the stretch, we couldn’t knock down the shots that we needed,” Smith said.

The Bulls gave up 11 unanswered points during a Marquette scoring run in the second half, surrendering a lead they held for most of the game.

Marquette’s run featured two baskets by Jasmine Collins and two by Sarina Simmons, and was capped by a 3-pointer by point guard Angel Robinson.

“You can see why Marquette’s good, at 15-3,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “That’s just finding a way to win, and they found a way to win.”

USF was plagued by cold shooting in the second half, scoring on only 28.6 percentof shots from the floor, and shooting 0-8 on 3-point attempts.

During the Golden Eagles’ second-half run, USF missed nine baskets.

Fernandez said he was frustrated with his team’s failure to finish strong.

“We’ve got to find a way to make meaningful shots, to end runs,” he said. “We’ve struggled with that.”

The end of the game was dismal compared to USF’s first-half performance where they shot a respectable 41.2 percent from the floor. They took the lead with 15:59 left in the first half and held it for most of the game, and were up by as many as 12 points.

Marquette was aided in the victory by 15 USF fouls that sent the Golden Eagles to the line for 21 free throw attempts, compared to only nine attempts for USF. With the loss, the Bulls dropped to 0-5 in conference play and are still looking for their first Big East win.

“No one in this league is going to feel sorry for you … that’s why it’s the best in the country,”Fernandez said.

Smith said that she and the team will take their losing streak in stride.

“It’s a little frustrating but we just have to stay together as a family and as a team and get better. We can’t let these six losses get to us,” she said. “We’re going to get in the gym, work hard and stay together.”

The Bulls travel to Morgantown, W. Va., Saturday fo ra match-up with the No. 9 Mountaineers at 4 p.m.