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Without Rader, USF women’s basketball loses its second straight conference game

Alyssa Rader (right) was sidelined Sunday against No. 3 UConn for concussion symptoms. Rader leads the Bulls with 119 total rebounds this season.

USF women’s basketball lost its second conference game in a row to No. 3 UConn 63-46 on Sunday afternoon in Storrs, Connecticut.

The Bulls (10-7, 1-2) are on a similar run to last year through 17 games, going 10-7 this season compared with last season when they were 12-5. However, this USF defense did not allow nearly as many points compared to their first matchup last season against UConn (14-1, 3-0). Giving up 100 points in their first meeting last year, this year’s young squad was able to hold the Huskies under 70 points.

Yet another injury to USF’s starting lineup

USF women’s basketball team has struggled with injuries this season, but news broke shortly before the UConn game that redshirt Junior Alyssa Rader was experiencing “concussion symptoms” and would not be able to play against the Huskies.

The Bulls were without Rader, a starter and the team’s main rebounder. Rader has 23 rebounds through the last five games and leads the team with 119 rebounds overall.

With Rader’s injury, only one of the five players who started USF’s first game this season remains healthy — Sydni Harvey, who scored just two points and had two rebounds against UConn.

Sydni Harvey, usually a large part of the USF offense, was shut down by the UConn defense. She was able to get off 14 shots, but only able to drop one basket. An unusual sighting for the freshman point guard, who is averaging 13.4 points a game.

Pehadzic and Henshaw lead the offense

Enna Pehadzic was the team leader in shot attempts and points scored, going 6-for-18 from the field. She recorded her third double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Tamara Henshaw was second on the team in scoring, recording a double-double as well. Usually not a big factor on the offensive side of the ball, she scored 12 points and added 10 rebounds.

Henshaw and Shae Leverett were both able to secure double-digit rebounds, adding to the team’s total of 42 rebounds for the game. Leverett also added a steal for her team.    

UConn beat USF without its starting five

UConn is ranked 14th overall in offense and it showed against the depleted Bulls squad. USF was able to keep the game close as it went into halftime down by only six. That was UConn’s first lead of the game, but it would only grow from there.

The Huskies rallied back against USF, as they were able to score 17 of their 63 points off of fast breaks. Although UConn trailed USF in rebounds, only securing 26 rebounds compared to the Bulls’ 42, it was still able to control the pace of the game.

USF held UConn to only 26 points through the first half and most of those points came toward the end of the second quarter. UConn coach Geno Auriemma felt that his starters were not respecting the young USF team enough, and even rotated all of them out in the first quarter.

“They made the decision before the game started, they didn’t have to get up for this game since USF is depleted. So, everyone is allowed to make decisions,” Auriemma said on ESPN after the game. “They made their decision, so I made mine and we are even.”