USF tops Marquette in Milwaukee

The USF women’s basketball team picked up a key road win Tuesday, its second consecutive victory after snapping a four-game losing streak, in a 61-48 victory over Marquette in Milwaukee.

Playing on the road in a nationally televised affair, the Bulls were coming off a momentum-building, 15-point victory over Villanova on Saturday, in which they had their best defensive performance in conference play, allowing just 39 points.

“You know, I was really pleased with the effort that we got from our players against Villanova,” coach Jose Fernandez said after Saturday’s game. “It was a game we needed to win at home and we were able to get the job done. When we rebound the ball and play tough defense, we can compete with anyone.”

The Bulls (14-13, 6-7) continued to do just that, playing tough defense for the majority of the Marquette game. USF allowed just 22 points in the first half of their first road victory since Jan. 14.

In addition, USF forced 24 turnovers and held the Eagles to 29 percent shooting from the field.

USF was led by Andrell Smith, who notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Inga Orekhova was also key for the Bulls, with 10 first-half points, and finished with 14 points despite a 5-of-18 shooting night.

Sasha Bernard was the third Bull in double figures with 10 points.

The Golden Eagles (13-12, 4-8) saw a big time contribution from an unlikely source in the loss.

Freshman Arlesia Morse shot well from 3-point range, hitting four of eight attempts for 50 percent 3-point shooting, 20 percent better than her season average.

Morse led the Golden Eagles with 20 points, nearly double her season average, and also added four rebounds and four steals.

The victory puts the Bulls at 14-13 with three games remaining, as they enter the stretch run in their effort to achieve a postseason berth after missing out last year. USF is now 6-7 in Big East play, one victory away from a .500 conference record.

USF will return to Tampa for a Saturday night tilt with the Pittsburgh Panthers and the chance to improve its impressive 7-3 record at home. The game tips off at 7 p.m.