Brito, Bulls down Stetson behind fourth-quarter dominance

USF shook off an offensive drought to pick up its 14th consecutive win over Stetson on Friday. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF leaned on its sophomore guard Carla Brito, who came off the bench, to snap a mid-game cold spell in a win over Stetson.

The Bulls (2-0) took down the Hatters (0-2) 67-55 on Friday afternoon at the Yuengling Center. 

After ugly second and third quarters in which USF shot a combined 30% from the floor, someone had to step up.

Brito did just that in the final quarter of play.

She scored 16 of her 20 points off the bench in the fourth frame, shooting an efficient seven for eight from the field. 

She also finished with 11 rebounds, recording her third career double-double. 

USF extended its win streak over Stetson to 14, a team they have never lost to in program history.  

Bulls coach Jose Fernandez praised Brito’s decision-making — specifically her ability to take good, effective shots.

“She kept it simple,” Fernandez said. “She took pull-up jumpers, she was efficient, she took good shots. That’s what she did last year.” 

Brito, who started last season, has come off the bench during the last two games. A performance like this could be the catalyst for her taking back a starting position.

“Hopefully this is the type of game that gets her better. Right now, can we play her at small forward?,” Fernandez said. “It looks like we might have to.” 

The Bulls got off to a hot start, with senior guard Maria Alvarez splashing three shots from beyond the arc in the first quarter. 

Alvarez finished the game with 18 points, scoring her 500th career point as a USF player. 

Guard Victoria Blasigh hit a buzzer-beating three to close out the first quarter, putting the Bulls up 23-9.

From there, the offense went cold.

The Bulls only scored a combined 20 points over the next two quarters as the team’s double-digit lead began to dwindle. 

Both offenses struggled at times, as the game featured multiple scoreless stretches. The start of the second half featured a nearly three-minute scoring drought. 

Fernandez said the Bulls are struggling from a lack of cohesion, and feeling the effects of missing their star senior guard, Sammie Puisis.

“There’s not that calmness on the floor,” Fernandez said. “You’re missing that calm guy in Sammie who knows where everyone goes.”

Despite starting the season with two wins, Bulls coach Jose Fernandez remains adamant about improving their overall play before facing tougher non-conference opponents. 

“Our guys got to play a lot better than we played today,” Fernandez said. 

After a home game against Grambling State on Nov. 13, USF will prepare for a highly-anticipated road rematch against Alabama on Nov. 16. The Bulls will aim to work through their current struggles before meeting up with the Crimson Tide. 

Fernandez said he is confident that his team can answer the call. 

“We’ll find a way,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”