Bulls’ season ends in second round of WNIT

USF's season came to an end against James Madison in the second round of the Women's NIT on Sunday night. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

USF women’s basketball was defeated by James Madison 71-54 on Sunday in Harrisonburg, Virginia, ending the Bulls’ season in the second round of the Women’s NIT.

Hot shooting by the Dukes sunk USF — James Madison shot 48 percent from the field and 10-of-25 from 3-point range. James Madison guard Jackie Benitez shot 50 percent from the field and made seven 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 26 points.

The Bulls were unable to replicate the offensive success they had against Stetson in Round 1 on Thursday, shooting 32 percent from the field and 14 percent (2-of-14) from 3-point range. Shae Leverett and Tamara Henshaw were the only two Bulls to make more than three field goals, shooting 6-of-9 and 5-of-11, respectively.

Things started out reasonably well for USF — the Bulls led by as many as five points at the end of a back-and-forth first quarter.

USF ended the first quarter up by one and never led again. James Madison outscored USF 25-8 in the second quarter to give the Dukes a lead they never surrendered.

I thought we didn't close out that first quarter when we were up five and then it trickled into the second quarter when they shot 70 percent from the floor,” coach Jose Fernandez said in a statement. “We battled back, we got it to seven-eight, and then the fourth quarter we didn't convert and we didn't make shots.”

The loss ends USF’s quest for a seventh straight 20-win season — though 2018-19 does extend the Bulls’ streak of 19 or more wins to eight seasons. After a season where the Bulls battled injury after injury, Fernandez was proud of the effort he got from his team.

We didn't get to 20 wins like we wanted to, but we got a lot from this bunch,” Fernandez said. “Now we've got to get them better in the offseason."