USF pulled within four points of West Virginia in the second half on Saturday, but it wouldn’t get any closer, falling 78-52 at the WVU Coliseum.
Andrea Smith scored 16 points, while twin sister Andrell Smith added 12 for USF. In addition, Porche Grant had a game-high nine rebounds. Their efforts weren’t enough, though, to lift the Bulls over No. 9 West Virginia.
The Mountaineers were bolstered by solid performances from Liz Repella and Sarah Miles, who scored 16 points apiece. It was a season high for Miles.
The Bulls (9-11, 0-6) opened the second half with baskets by Sasha Bernard and Daleisha Carn to make the score 35-31, bringing the Bulls within striking distance. West Virginia responded, however, with a basket by Repella and a 3-pointer by Vanessa House to claim a nine-point lead with 17:53 remaining in the game. USF never got a second chance at redemption.
Six unanswered points by Miles set the stage for a 19-0 WVU run that put the game away for good. USF went scoreless for six minutes, and the Mountaineers cruised to victory.
West Virginia was aided by a mistake-prone Bulls squad that gave away 20 turnovers.
“(The Mountaineers) do a very good job pressuring the ball and getting in the passing lanes,” coach Jose Fernandez said . “They switch one through five, and if you don’t read the defense and open up on cuts, they slide through screens really well and open up on gaps. No other team in our league switches as much as they do.”
Under pressure by a stingy Mountaineer defense that ranks best in the Big East by allowing only 47.2 points per game, the Bulls were held to 28 percent shooting (16 of 57), compared to West Virginia’s 51 percent (27 of 53).
The Bulls also struggled on the boards, getting outrebounded 45-30.
With the loss, USF has dropped seven straight games, including its last six against Big East foes.
West Virginia extended its school-record home winning streak to 30 games.
USF, meanwhile, will have an opportunity to end its losing streak at home against Seton Hall on Tuesday at 7 p.m.