USF women’s basketball lost 69-59 against Rice at the Yuengling Center on Wednesday night, snapping its three-game winning streak.
Before tip-off, South Florida (14-10, 6-5, AAC) was a game behind first place in its conference standings. It fell to seventh in the American Athletic Conference while the Owls (13-9, 7-4, AAC) rose to fourth.
Coach Jose Fernandez was disappointed in the team’s effort on Wednesday. A home game against a conference opponent was important as the season enters its final stretch.
“This was a great opportunity for us,” he said. “That’s a game you got to get at home, and that’s what we’ve always done in the past, especially in this league, is to protect our home floor.”
South Florida was not short of opportunities Wednesday, with 18 more shot attempts than Rice. The Bulls finished with 69 shot attempts while the Owls had 51.
After her 21-point performance last Saturday against UAB, freshman guard Vittoria Blasigh continued her production with a team-high 17 points.
Blasigh shot seven for 20 from the field and three for six from three-point range.
“We just have to focus on the next one, that’s the only thing that we can do,” Blasigh said. “We took more shots than them, but they just played harder.”
The Bulls started off with an impressive defensive effort. However, the Owls fought back by cutting South Florida’s lead to two before the Bulls called timeout with 4:37 remaining.
Rice’s 21-point second-quarter effort tied the game at halftime 29-29.
The Bulls showed strength on the boards, with senior forward Evelien Lutje Schipholt securing 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“I was feeling it from this morning,” she said. “I was looking forward to playing Rice again, I felt good, my legs go in when I’m comfortable.”
Rice relied on free throws during the second half, going 11 for 12 while South Florida went three for four. Both teams made the same number of field goals.
Fernandez emphasized the significance of Wednesday’s loss.
“Coming off winning three in a row, that’s a game you got to get,” he said. “We have played 24 games, there’s a lot of film out. People know who to attack. People know who to go after. People know who to pick on.”
Schipholt expressed concerns about the team’s up and down season – especially as Wednesday night’s loss came after three consecutive wins. The Bulls lack of consitency has been a concern this season.
“It has been a roller coaster, and obviously we do not want to be where we are at right now,” Schipholt said. “Coach made it clear that we have to think about the next, and move on [with] short-term memory.”
USF will travel to Philadelphia to face Temple on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SECN+ and Bulls Unlimited Radio.