Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bulls Capture First WNIT Title with 75-71 Win Over Kansas

Jazmine Sepulveda scored 18 points and Shantia Grace had 16, leading South Florida to a 75-71 victory over Kansas on Saturday in the WNIT finals, giving the school its first postseason championship of any kind.

Jessica Lawson added 13 points for South Florida, including a key free throw in the final minute as the Bulls (27-10) held off a late Kansas run and won their third game in three different states in six days. South Florida had to win three straight road games to win the tourney. Danielle Starzynski was absent in game play due to a heart injury but was there in presence cheering her team on.

Danielle McCray had 24 points for Kansas (22-14) and pushed her tournament total to 147, a WNIT record.

The game attracted 16,113 fans, the largest home crowd for a women's game in Big 12 history. The Jayhawks averaged only 2,555 at home in the regular season.

The record crowd got a quick-paced, hard-fought game. In one furious possession in the first half, the Jayhawks missed four straight shots from point-blank range but each time got the offensive rebound. Finally, McCray got a put-back.

Sade Morris had 19 points for Kansas, which won nine of its last 11 to reach the school's first national championship game in women's basketball. Aishah Sutherland had 12 and Kyrsten Boogaard 10.

Janae Stokes, as the time clock was about to expire, drilled a long 3-pointer with 5:27 to go that gave the Bulls what looked like a safe lead at 65-53.

But then in a game of alternating streaks, the Jayhawks unfurled a 13-2 run, seeming to gather energy from their record crowd, and shaved the lead to 67-66 on a bucket by Boogaard.

But Lawson banked home a shot and then added a free throw to make it 70-66.

The Jayhawks had the ball with about 1 minute left needing a 3-pointer to tie, but Sutherland threw it away and the Bulls inbounded with 51 seconds to go.

Grace, South Florida's All-Big East point guard, dribbled around the Kansas defense and fed Sepulveda, whose 10-footer from the baseline put the Bulls on top 72-67 with less than 30 seconds to play.

After Sade Morris' free throw brought Kansas to 72-68, Lawson was immediately fouled and the 6-foot-3 senior hit one. Grace added two more free throws before McCray canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Sepulveda and Porche Grant led the Bulls on a 14-2 run closing out the first half and took a 38-30 lead into intermission.

Celebrate With The Champs
All USF fans are encouraged to meet the WNIT Champion USF Women's Basketball Team upon their arrival at Tampa International Airport.

The team will be arriving on Southwest Airlines Flight 2714 at 10:20 am Sunday.

Please note that parking is free for the first hour, but if you can’t make it to TIA, fan are welcome to meet the team as they arrive back on USF’s campus and the Sun Dome.

Postgame Quotes
USF President Judy Genshaft
"USF women's basketball has made history! The women's team and its coaches, especially Jose Fernandez, deserve all of our congratulations! They showed the nation they are a championship team. We are so proud of you all."

USF Head Coach Jose Fernandez
Opening Statement:
“First of all, I want to comment on what a great basketball atmosphere this was. I’ve been at South Florida for nine years, and we’ve played at a lot of places, but this atmosphere was totally tremendous. Coming into an arena like this, that is so rich with history, was special, especially for our seniors. They finished their careers in Allen Fieldhouse, and that is something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives. I think it was a great championship game. I want to recognize Kansas’ efforts and what a great job Bonnie (Henrickson) has done and what they did to get here. I couldn’t be prouder of our kids, coming into this environment and winning on the road.”

On the solid defense on KU’s Danielle McCray:
“We had (Jazmine) Sepulveda on her a lot. We were in a no-catch situation with her. Anytime that they interchanged on the baseline, we switches on those screens. What we did with (Janae) Stokes and Shantia (Grace) was to go double her off of the catch and into the dribble just to get the ball out of her hands. I think she’s an unbelievable future. She’s going to be a pro. She’s got 3-point range and a great body. She can get to the rim. We were really concerned with her, even more so for the numbers that she’s put in during the last 10 games of the season.

Senior Guard Shantia Grace
On the game:
“I just had to sit-back and take care of the ball and let the game come to me. I had a couple bad shots at the beginning of the game, so I just had to settle down. In the second half, I was the go-to player so I had to suck it up and play hard. I had to get my team going.”

On the crowd:
“At first, it was loud. It was so loud that my ears were ringing and I couldn’t hear myself breathe. It was loud. But after you play for a couple minutes, you just tune the crowd out and play your game. We’ve been playing well on the road all year, in the Big East and in the WNIT. We knew that the crowd wouldn’t be a factor if we just stayed together and played hard.”

Freshman Guard Jasmine Wynne
On the crowd:
“We had to stay together. The crowd can’t score, so we decided that we had to stay together as a team.”

Sophomore guard Danielle Starzynski
On Not Playing in the Championship game:
"It was rough having to sit back and just watch everything happen, especially in a championship game and such a huge environment with a big crowd. I wanted to be out on that court so bad helping my team and really playing a part in this game because this is history right here. But i just had to sit back and cheer my team on though and it still feels good i'm still really proud of my them i knew we'd pull this win off and i'm proud to say atleast i came here and walked away with a title. This also throws a slap in people's faces that thought we shouldn't have made the ncaa tournament because obviously we're contenders. I'm just excited right now it feels great."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bulls Moves Into WNIT Title Game With 82-65 Win At BC

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team looked to take another step in an already successful Women’s National Invitation Tournament journey tonight as it faced Boston College in the tournament’s semifinals. Well that journey will have another leg to it as USF handed the Eagles an 82-65 loss at the Silvio O. Conte Forum. The win was the fourth straight for the Bulls, and their eighth victory in their past nine games. USF is now 26-10 on the year while Boston College ends the season 23-12.

The Bulls now advance to the WNIT championship game and will face Kansas on Saturday, April 4 at 2 p.m. (ET).

USF came out in the first half and tried to set the tempo early as Jasmine Wynne forced the Eagles into turnovers on their first two possessions and helping the Bulls jump out to a 5-0 lead just two minutes into the game on a lay-up by Jazmine Sepulveda. After a Wynne lay-up made the score 13-11 USF with 10-:27 left, Boston College would score the next four points to take its first lead of the game, 15-13, with 9:23 left in the first half on a lay-up by Jasmine Gill.

The Eagles would push the lead to as many as six points twice over the remainder of the half, allowing the Bulls to regain the lead just once, 26-25, on their first and only three-pointer of the half by Shantia Grace with 3:03 left before the intermission.Boston College would eventually take a four-point, 32-28, advantage into the locker room at the break.

Despite USF shooting just 35.5 percent from the field in the first stanza, Brittany Denson was 4-6 from the field, and 4-4 from the charity stripe, for 12 points in the first 20 minutes. The Bulls came out in the first four minutes of the second half and scored 14 of the first 21 points during that stretch spearheaded by three Janae Stokes treys. USF took control of the game holding the Eagles without a field goal from the 12:10 mark to 6:28. During that stretch, the Bulls got 13 of 15 points from Wynne and two three-pointers from Stokes giving USF a 15-point, 65-50 lead.

USF would not look back the rest of the way as Boston College never got closer than 11 points in the final six minutes. The Bulls would extend their lead to a game-high 17 points, 82-65, with the final margin. Stokes would finish with a team-high 22 points on 7-16 shooting from the field, 5-9 from behind the arc, and 3-6 from the charity stripe. Wynne added 19 points while Grace and Denson chipped in with 16 and 12 respectively. Leading scorer Danielle Starzynski was absent from the game again due to a heart condition that has kept her benched. She is not expected to play in Saturday's WNIT final.

On the night, USF was 44.4 percent (28-63) from the field and 42.9 percent (9-21) from behind the arc. In addition, the Bulls hit 81 percent (17-21) of their shots from the free throw line in the win. USF also forced Boston College into 15 turnovers which led to 25 points, while just committing five on the night including two in the second half.

The Bulls will now head to Lawrence, Kansas for their first WNIT title game at the Phog Allen Fieldhouse Saturday with tip-off slated for 2p.m.. As always keep reading for updates and GO BULLS!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

USF Advances to WNIT Final Four With 80-66 Win

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team hit the road for the first time during its participation in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, traveling to the “Southern Tier” of the Empire State, looking to continue its record breaking season against St. Bonaventure in the WNIT quarterfinals. And while playing at a school that has tremendous basketball tradition and legendary basketball alums like Bob Lanier, it seems fitting that USF looks to continue building on its young but growing history.

Well, the Bulls will get at least one more chance to add another chapter to their storybook postseason as they handed the Bonnies an 80-66 loss and advance to the semifinals of the WNIT. The “Green and Gold” got the win in front of a raucous 4,133 fans at the Reilly Center, a school record for women’s basketball. USF now awaits the winner of Georgetown and Boston College who play at 5 p.m. on Sunday in Boston.

St. Bonaventure ends the season 23-11 while the Bulls improve to 25-10.

The Bulls got huge afternoons from its seniors as four of the five players in double-figures were in the senior class. Shantia Grace led the way with 20 points while Jazmine Sepulveda and Jessica Lawson added 14 points, and Janae Stokes and Brittany Denson chipped in with 11 and 10 points respectively. Leading scorer Danielle Starzynski, arguably the player that got the bulls to this point, did not make the trip due to health reasons. It has not been determined whether or not she will play the rest of the season.

Grace shot 3-10 from the field and 1-4 from behind the three-point arc, however the guard from Sarasota was automatic down the stretch from the charity stripe hitting 13-13 from the line including 8-8 in the second half. Her perfect performance from the line equals the second best in school history for a single game, joining Sonya Swick’s 13-13 against UAB on Jan. 16, 1998.

Lawson added 14 rebounds in the win for her second double-double in the past three games.

After St. Bonaventure led by as many as eight points in the first half and USF had a nine-point advantage in the first stanza, Stokes gave the Bulls a three-point lead, 38-35, at the intermission draining a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer.

In the second half, the Bonnies would regain the lead, 44-42, on a Katelyn Murray three-point shot with 17:42 left in the game. St. Bonaventure would get the lead to as many as three points, 51-48, hitting the front end of a one-and-one with 13:36 left in the contest, a lead that would prove to be the biggest for the Bonnies the rest of the way.

The Bulls would take control running their advantage to double figures for the first time in the contest, 73-63, on a free throw by Jasmine Wynne with 2:38 left in the game. St. Bonaventure would never get closer the rest of the way. On the afternoon, USF would shoot 50 percent (28-56) from the field and 85.7 percent (18-21) from the free throw line.

The Bulls will now face Boston College on Weds. April 1, at 7 p.m. at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hills, Mass. in the semifinals of the WNIT tournament. Stay tuned for your updates and GO BULLS!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bulls Pick Up Big Win In WNIT Third Round

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team picked up a big win Thursday night with a convincing 74-57 win over Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi in the Sun Dome in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). Ole Miss finishes the season 18-15 while the Bulls improve to 24-10 on the year.

USF now advances to the quarterfinals of the WNIT where it will face St. Bonaventure in Olean, N.Y. on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bonnies defeated Wisconsin in Madison on Thursday night, 56-51. This will be the first-ever meeting between the Bulls and St. Bonaventure.

The Rebels came out and took control early when Elizabeth Robinson one of her three three-point shots with 14:47 left in the first half to give Ole Miss a 14-4 lead, a margin that would prove to be its biggest of the game for Mississippi.

USF, however came back using a 10-2 run capped by a Danielle Starzynski three-point play with 11:12 left in the half, cutting the Mississippi lead to two points, 16-14. The Bulls would then take their first lead of the game, 26-24, on a lay-up by Shantia Grace – off a Starzynsi assist – and then pushed the margin to four points, 28-24, on another lay-up by Grant with 6:47 left before the intermission.

After the Bulls took a nine-point advantage, 35-26, with 5:02 left in the half on a three-pointer by Starzynski, Ole Miss would counter by closing the half on a 14-5 run and took a 40-38 lead into the locker room at the break.

USF, however, came out in the second half and didn’t waste any time in taking the upper hand outscoring the Rebels 16-4 to open the second stanza and taking a 54-44 lead on a three-pointer by Janae Stokes with 15:06 left in the game.

Ole Miss would cut the lead to five points two times in the next two minutes, however would not get any closer the rest of the way. The Bulls largest lead of the game came on a 10-foot jumper by Shantia Grace with 21 seconds left giving USF its final margin.

Grace would finish the game with 18 points while Janae Stokes netted 13 and Starzynski contributed 27 in the win. Starzynski would be taken out of the game with 6 minutes left to play due to heart complications that led her to collapse on the floor. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she was admitted. Jessica Lawson and Porche Grant each added 10 points apiece while Grant also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Grant's double-double was her third of the season and the sixth of her career.

The Bulls continue to improve on their record-setting win total. Their 24 victories are the most ever recorded by a USF men’s or women’s basketball team.

Monday, March 23, 2009

USF Gets Big Wynne In Coming Out Party

University of South Florida freshman guard Jasmine Wynne picked one heck of a night to have a coming out party. The Jacksonville native turned in a career outing pouring in a game-high 26 points in the Bulls 88-81 overtime win over Florida Gulf Coast in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) second round game at the Sun Dome.

The win, USF’s fifth in its last six outings, snapped the Eagles 17-game winning streak and ends their season at 26-5 overall. The victory also avenges a heartbreaking 67-65 loss, for the Bulls, to Florida Gulf Coast exactly one year ago in Fort Myers in the WNIT first round.

USF improves to 23-10 on the year marking the most wins in a season for a Bulls’ basketball team, men’s or women’s.

In a game that would eventually see 14 lead changes and seven ties by the time the final horn would sound, the Eagles jumped out in the first half and seemed to take control, despite never leading by more than four points in the first 9:32 of the first half, when Kelsey Jacobsen hit a three-pointer with 10:28 remaining in the first half.

Although Florida Gulf Coast dictated the tempo, the Bulls would eventually make a run to take a three-point lead, 36-33, on a driving lay-up by Wynne with 4:16 left in the first stanza.

The Eagles, however, would then put together their own run scoring the next 15 points to take a nine-point lead, 48-36, on a trey by Brittany Brown with 1:11 left in the half. That lead would prove to be Florida Gulf Coast’s largest margin of the contest.

After a free throw by Wynne with 20 seconds left before the intermission, and a steal and one of two free throws by Jazmine Sepulveda with two seconds left, USF would trail by just eight points at the break, 48-40.

The second half would prove to be no different than the first, with the two teams going back and forth.

After Florida Gulf Coast pushed its lead back to 10 points, twice in the first 4:20 of the second half, the Bulls would put together an 11-2 run to cut the lead to one point, 60-59, on a three-pointer by Sepulveda with 13:38 left in regulation.

The Eagles would get the lead back to four points on their next possession on a three-pointer by Jacobsen to make the score 63-59.

After USF regained the lead and pushed its edge back to four points, on a lay-up by Jessica Lawson with 9:15 left in the second half making the score 67-63, neither team would lead by more than three points the rest of regulation.

In the final minute of regulation, Wynne would hit what seemed to be the biggest shot of her short collegiate career, driving the right side of the lane and hitting a lay-up with 15 seconds left on the clock to make the score 79-77. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Adrianne McNally had other ideas as she drove the left side of the lane to score with two seconds on the clock to tie the game at 77-all. A Grace desperation shot was no good at the buzzer.

Like USF has done during its history under head coach Jose Fernandez, it took control early in the overtime and defensively locked up the opposition. The Bulls would hold Florida Gulf Coast to just two of the 11 combined points scored in the extra session en route to the win.

The victory is the third this season for the Bulls in overtime and improves their record in overtime games to 11-3 under Fernandez. In addition, USF has allowed just eight points in its three extra session games this season and just three in the last two.

Along with Wynne’s offensive output, the Bulls also got big nights from pits post players Lawson and Denson as they recorded 19 points and 15 rebounds, and 18 points and 12 rebounds respectively. Each player was just one rebound off tying their respective career highs. The girls picked a good night to stepup offensively as they were without leading scorer Danielle Starzynski who was absent due to a heart surgery she was undergoing. No word on when Starzynski will return.

Chelsea Lyles paced four players in double figures for the Eagles with 20 points while McNally and Jacobson added 16 and 15 points respectively. Brown finished with 11 points.

USF has been assured a third round WNIT home game against Mississippi on Thursday, March 26, at 7p.m.. Stay tuned as always for your updates and GO BULLS!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

USF Advances to Sixth Straight Postseason; Earn Bye in WNIT

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team will take part in its sixth straight postseason event and it’s fifth Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). USF, who receives a first round bye to this year’s tournament, will await the winner of the George Washington vs. Florida Gulf Coast game which will be played on Thursday, March 19 in Fort Myers, Fla. The Bulls will host their second game on Saturday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

The Bulls advance to the WNIT after posting a 22-10 record and an eighth place 8-8 record in BIG EAST Conference play. USF’s 22 wins marks the most wins in the program’s 37 year history. The Bulls have won four of their last five games, six of their last nine and eight of their last 13 games with three of those eight wins coming at Rutgers, at DePaul and at Villanova, all NCAA Tournament team’s.

First team All-BIG EAST Conference selections Shantia Grace and Danielle Starzynski are two of four players averaging double figures in the scoring column netting 39 and 16.2 points per game respectively, while Janae Stokes (12.7 ppg.) and Jazmine Sepulveda (12.2 ppg.) are the remaining two. Starzynski's playing status is day to day right now due to a nearly fatal car accident she was involved in on Sunday. No report on her injuries sustained although it was reported that she did participate in practice on Monday.

The Bulls earned the No. 8 seed, and a first round bye, in the BIG EAST Tournament where they defeated Cincinnati, 68-58, in the second round before losing to top seeded, and No. 1/1 ranked, Connecticut in the quarterfinals.

George Washington comes into the WNIT with a 17-13 record and finished fifth in the Atlantic-10 Conference with a 9-5 record. The Colonials have dropped their last three games; however have won 10 of their last 15.

Florida Gulf Coast comes into its game with the Colonials with a 25-4 record and winners of the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship with a 17-3 record. The Eagles, who were not eligible for the A-Sun Conference Tournament due to it being in its Division I transition phase for reclassification, have won 16 straight games entering the WNIT.

Bubble burst: No NCAAs for USF Women

Despite being projected by experts as making the cut for the NCAA Tournament, the Bulls were passed over when the field of 64 was announced Monday night, with only seven Big East teams chosen.

USF (22-10) is left for the consolation of the Women's NIT, the Bulls' fifth appearance there in the past six seasons. USF coach Jose Fernandez had set 22 wins as the magic number for his team, which closed the season strong with road wins against Rutgers, DePaul and Villanova.

"At the end of the day, I feel for this bunch," Fernandez said. "You start four seniors, and a lot of these guys have been left out of the NCAA Tournament two of the last three years. ... This year, we broke a school record for wins, won 22 games, didn't have one bad loss. We beat Iowa and Texas Tech on the road, beat DePaul, Rutgers, Villanova all on the road. Five top-50 wins, (nine) top-100 wins, and we're sitting at home. ... There's got to be some kind of accountability."

USF has earned a first-round bye in the 48-team NIT, and the Bulls on Saturday will host the winner of Thursday's opening-round game between George Washington and Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU beat USF in Fort Myers in the first round of last year's NIT.

Three of's four NCAA analysts cited USF as being the tournament's "Biggest Snub" in reviewing the bracket Monday night.

Committee chair Jacki Silar, speaking on a teleconference Monday night, cited USF's nonconference strength of schedule, which she said ranked 264th nationally, as a factor the committee took into consideration in not choosing the Bulls. USF played just three top-100 teams in nonconference play.

Senior guard Shantia Grace, the only remaining member of USF's 2006 NCAA team, said the news was "heartbreaking" for a team that believed it had done enough to earn an at-large berth. Sophomore guard and leading scorer Danielle Starzynski did not appreciate the news either stating, "This is rediculous we got screwed over hardbody. I don't even have any words for this decision right now."

Among the teams chosen over USF were Virginia Commonwealth, which did not beat a team rated in the top 50 all season, its best win against a James Madison team rated No. 57 in the country. Georgia and Minnesota won despite worse records and lower RPIs while playing in lower-rated conferences.

Fernandez knew something was wrong when the top half of the Berkeley bracket was announced without a Big East team -- he knew that if his team was the eighth Big East team, the eight teams would be split evenly, one in each half of each region, so when a region came up with no Big East team, he said his team was out, with 24 spots still left to be announced.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Danielle Starzynski Named to All-BIG EAST Second Team

University of South Florida sophomore Danielle Starzynski(Maplewood, N.J.) was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team; it was announced by the conference on Sunday.

Starzynski led the Bulls to a 22-10 overall record and a #8 seed in the BIG EAST Championship this season. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged a conference best 39.5 points per game and was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll four times this season. On Feb. 24, Starzynski was named BIG EAST Player of the Week. One of the most prolific scorers in recent history at South Florida, Starzynski became the 37th player in school history to record her 1,000th career point and is the only player to have achieved the feat in one season.

Starzynski reached the 40-point mark eleven times this season, the most for a Bull ever in the program's history. Against Villanova she scored a career high 63 points. Starzynski has also broken the single-season steals record recoriding 115 steals this season. In addition, she is the first bull to ever average over 30 points per game. Unfortunately Starzynski will not be returning to the Bulls team next season.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bulls Can't Knock Off No. 1 UConn

Kalana Greene scored a season-high 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, and top-ranked Connecticut defeated the University of South Florida 79-42 Sunday in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship.

Greene, whose previous high was 17 against Rutgers on Monday, had 18 by halftime when UConn led 47-10. She hit nine of her 10 shots from the field.

Maya Moore, the conference player of the year, had a double-double in the first half and finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in 27 minutes. Tina Charles added 15 points and Kaili McLaren had 13 for the Huskies (31-0), who are seeking their 15th conference tournament title and second in a row.

Janae Stokes led eighth-seeded USF (22-10) with 15. Jazmine Sepulveda, who tied a tournament record with eight 3-pointers in the Bulls' second-round win over Cincinnati, attempted just two shots and didn't score on Sunday. Leading scorer Danielle Starzynski only scored 3 points on the night as well. Jasmine Wynne added nine points in the loss for USF.

Connecticut started fast, and a lob pass from McLaren to Moore made it 20-1 with just over 12 minutes left in the first half.USF didn't get a field goal until Porche Grant hit a layup with just over 9 minutes left in first half to make it 25-5. The Bulls were just 3-of-24 from the field in the first half, while the Huskies had runs of 10-0, 10-0 and 13-0 before halftime.

The 10 points were the fewest the Huskies had ever allowed in one half of a BIG EAST tournament game. UConn, which beat USF 83-37 in Tampa on Jan. 6, held the Bulls to 29percent shooting and improved to 8-0 against the Bulls. The Huskies shot 50 percent, and outrebounded USF 51-19.

The Bulls will now sit and await their fate as to whether they will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The entire field of 64 will be announced on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

USF hopes to received its second NCAA Tournament invitation in the program's history. The Bulls last advanced to the "Big Dance" during the 2005-06 season when they earned a No. 9 seed and faced the No. 8 seed Southern California in the first round in Norfolk, VA. The Women of Troy defeated USF 67-65 in what was one of the best games of the first round.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bulls Defeat Cincy, 68-58, To Advance In BIG EAST Tourney

Jazmine Sepulveda hit a career-high eight 3-point shots and scored 24 points as the University of South Florida beat Cincinnati 68-58 Saturday in the second round of the BIG EAST tournament.

Shantia Grace added 13 points and 10 assists for the eighth-seeded Bulls (22-9), who will play top-ranked and undefeated Connecticut in Sunday's quarterfinals.

Jill Stephens led Cincinnati, the 16th seed, with 15 points. The Bearcats, who upset Marquette in the first round on Friday, finish the season 14-17.

USF led by a point at halftime, and came out after intermission on a 10-2 run, and improved its record when leading at the half to 17-1.

The Bulls hit 14-of-25 shots from behind the arc, while Cincinnati was just 5-of-17 from 3-point range. the 14 trey's that USF hit also marked a single game BIG EAST Tournament record. In addition, the Bulls hit double-digit three pointers for the seventh time this year and the first since Jan. 20 when they hit 12 (12-27) at Providence.

The win was the fourth in a row for the Bulls (22-9) and their sixth in their last eight games. The 22 wins is the most in any season in the program's history.

A senior guard, Sepulveda set a career high with eight 3-pointers; the mark is tied for the second highest single-game total in school history joining Grace who hit for eight trey's against Coppin State earlier this year on Nov. 23. For the record, Sepulveda’s career high is 26 points.

In addition to Sepulveda and Grace's double-digit performances, Jessica Lawson grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with eight points. Leading scorer Danielle Starzynski had a tough night scoring just 9 points on 4-19 shooting in just 14 minutes of play.

On the afternoon, USF shot 46.9 percent from the field (23-49) and 56 percent (14-25) from behind the three-point arc.

Monday, March 2, 2009

USF-Villanova Post-game Interview

Following the Bulls big win at Villanova, a few players and Coach Fernandez were interviewed and talked to the press about the win, tournament hopes, and finishing off the season....

How do you guys feel about the win tonight, having been a must-win situation, does this give you guys extra motivation going into the Big East tournament and hopefully the big dance?

Starzynski: I definitely think tonight was a huge win for us. It puts us in a good position for the big east tournament, hopefully getting that buy on friday and it gives us alot of momentum going into it too because now people can wake up and see that we're ready. We ain't here for games we're here to win and we're a serious contender, you better ask somebody.

Sepulveda: Tonight was a big win for us, it puts us at a good seed in the big east and hopefully it will show people we have earned a spot in the ncaa tournament.

A lot of people believed that your team wouldn't make the tournament this season. I think it's safe to say that you guys have definitely been an underdog this season and you've definitely had a lot of turmoil beginning with Coach Cardillo leaving before the season. How do you girls manage to deal with all this and just play your game? And to Danielle, did you consider leaving after Coach's decision?

Starzynski: The whole year we've definitely been the underdog. Before we even got a chance to play a game and show people what we got they were already saying we weren''t gonna make it. I think we've come out and proved them wrong, kinda smacked them in the face with maintaining a pretty good record and pulling off some wins that no one thought we would. We've absolutely had our troubles but we're all here for one reason and that's to play basketball, to win games. So at the end of the day you have to put it all behind you and do your job. The situation with coach leaving took a toll on me and hit me hard because she was who i wanted to play for, she recruited me and knew me as a player. But when it came down to it i couldn't leave what i had started, i was adjusting to this team and just had to suck it up and do what i came here for.

Sepulveda: There are always going to be people who will doubt you as a team and say oh you can't do this or that, but eventually you learn to never let them get to you. You just have to prove them wrong and go out there and play your hardest and that's what we do. Coach leaving was tough especially since i played under her for 3 years but there wasn't much we could do. It was her decision.

Do you think you guys have a shot at the NCAA tournament and at succeeding in it, or perhaps being champions of the big east tournament?

Starzynski: Anything's possible. I think we have just as good a shot as any other team. Don't sleep on us, we're coming to play and that's all you need to know. We're ready for whatever and we're gonna fight hard until the end, play the best basketball we can. We'll see how far that gets us.

Sepulveda: We made it this far so we're just going to continue to fight and go as far as we can. There's some good things but any team can win on any night.

Danielle you had an impressive night scoring 63 points. In the past few games you've been playing at a very high level scoring 40 plus points in 8 consecutive games. Have you felt the urgency to step up going into the postseason or are you trying to solidify your spot on the team next year knowing there's a few seniors leaving?

Starzynski: I've been playing at the same level pretty much all year. Statistically yeah some nights are better than others but every single night i go out there i go hard i play my heart out and give it 110 percent. I'm capable of scoring high numbers like that in every game but i do it when it's needed. I do what i have to to help my team win and that's what it's all about. I'm not trying to solidify a spot or impress anyone i'm just doing me and playing the only way i know how. Tonight was a big game and absolutely i knew i had to step up because i wasn't about to lose, but that's nothing new that's my attitude going into every game.

Danielle it had been said that you will not be returning to play for the Bulls next year. Is that true, if so what are your reasons and will you be playing for another school?

Starzynski: Yeah those rumors are true and i've let everyone know that i won't be coming back to USF next year. My decision was just based on personal reasons and me doing what i feel is best for me. Things here have been fun, i've enjoyed playing on this team but it's best that i leave and find my place elsewhere. As far as basketball goes, i hope to play for another school and continue my career but as of right now it's still up in the air i'm not exactly sure what's gonna happen.

Jazmine, as a senior are you more anxious to have a successful year since you haven't gone far with this USF team in your past 3 seasons?

Sepulveda: As a senior you always want to have a good season just so you could feel like you've gone out on top so i definitely think there's an extra sense of urgency there for me.

Coach Fernandez you guys pulled off a big win tonight, how does it feel knowing that your team is coming out and proving people wrong and is really in the fight for the championship?

Coach Fernandez: My girls have been working really hard all season in practice and in games and i just knew that the hard work and all the long hourse we put in were going to pay off eventually. We're a very talented team with a lot of good players and we can contend with the best of our teams in this conference. I think people are seeing that now and i'm proud of my team for the way they've been playing and fighting through everything.

Coach Fernandez can you just speak about Danielle Starzynski for me a little. She has just been a tremendous part of this Bulls team this season and has really emerged as a star player. Did you know coming in that she would have the impact that she has on this team?

Coach Fernandez: Danielle is definitely a special player and has helped this team a lot. She puts up really big numbers for us and she has an extreme amount of talent. It's safe to say on some nights she does carry the team but we're a team and there is no one person that makes us. She plays a big part and is very good but it is a joint effort. I knew she was a great player, i don't think anybody expected her to put up the numbers she has been but she still has a lot of growing to do.

Coach Fernandez how does it feel to be the 8th seed in the Big East and how do you feel about your potential first round matchup against Marquette? You've had some trouble with them this season do you think you will be able to take on this challenge and advance to the next round?

Coach Fernandez: I feel great about getting the 8th seed in the big east, that's a good spot to have and we've definitely fought to get there. As far as having to face marquette i think my girls are ready for it. Yes we lost to them twice this season but we're a different team now and we're playing at a much higher level coming into the postseason. We know what's on the line and i think the girls are ready to deliver and pull through with a victory. We're ready for whoever we have to face, i can promise you that we will play strong against any team and we're not going to go down without a fight.

Bulls Stun Nova In Last Second Thriller, 82-80

Coming into its regular season finale on Monday night at Villanova, the University of South Florida didn’t have a lot of control over its own destiny in terms of seeding for the upcoming BIG EAST Conference Tournament in Hartford, March 6-10. Sure, the game was big, because if USF did win and both Marquette and Georgetown lost, the Bulls would get the No. 8 seed in the tournament earning a first round bye. If USF won and the Golden Eagles won and the Hoyas lost – or visa versa – then the Bulls would get a No. 9 seed and play at 2 p.m. on Friday. Other than that, a Bulls loss would get USF the No. 10 seed and it would play at 6 p.m. Friday night.

One thing that the Bulls could control, however, was gaining momentum heading to Hartford as they continue to try and stay in the NCAA Tournament conversation. Well, USF embraced that momentum with open arms Monday night with a thrilling 82-80 win over the Wildcats at The Pavilion. The victory is the third straight for the Bulls, and their fifth in their last seven games, and improves their record to 21-9 and 8-8 in the BIG EAST. Villanova is 18-12 overall and 10-6 in the conference. USF’s 21 wins equals the most wins in school history joining the 2004-04 and 2006-07 team’s that also accomplished the feat.

Villanova started the game looking like it was one of the top three-point shooting teams in the BIG EAST, not the 13th. The Wildcats hit three treys in the first half, going 5-13 in the first stanza, and using two separate stretches of back-to-back three’s to take their biggest lead of the half, 26-14, with 8:13 left. The first came with the USF training by just two points, 11-9 when Danielle Starzynski hit consecutive three’s with 12:08 and 11:11 on the clock respectively to make extend Villanova’s lead to 17-9.

The second stretch came with 8:41 left on the clock when Maria Getty hit a three to give the Wildcats a 23-14 advantage. Heather Scanlon then came back on the next possession for Villanova and drained a trey with 8:13 left to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the half.

The Bulls would cut the Villanova lead to six points several times in the final eight minutes and eventually tied it going into the half tied at 39-39.

USF came out in the second half and chipped away at the lead cutting the Wildcats lead one, 35-34 on two Starzynski free-throws with 12:33 left in the game, and then 3 consecutive three-pointers by Starzynski.

After a back-to-back possessions by both teams, and a missed field goal by Villanova, the Bulls would take their first lead of the game when Jazmine Sepulvada connected on a three-pointer with 10:51 left to make the score 36-35.

The Wildcats would come right back to regain the edge the next time down the floor when Getty drove to the basket, scored and was fouled. She hit the free throw with 10:31 left to give Villanova a 38-36 lead and setting the stage for a thrilling final 10 minutes.

After Starzynski tied the game at 41-all on a three-pointer with 8:27 left in the game, the score would remained tied until Laura Kurz hit the first of six straight free throws that would give the Wildcats a 47-41 lead with 4:10 on the clock.

Starzynski stopped the Villanova run hitting a jumper getting the lead back to four points, 47-43 with 3:25 left off an assist by Stokes.

After cutting the lead to one-point, 48-47, on a rebound put-back by Danielle Starzynski with 1:34 left, Kurz looked like she may have put the Wildcats up for good draining a three-point shot to put Villanova back up 50-47, with 58 seconds left.

On the next possession, Starzynski drove the ball down the right side of the lane connected on a lay-up and was fouled. She would go to the line, hit the free throw, tying the game at 50-all with 40 seconds left.

Villanova would call time out with 19 seconds left on the clock to set up a play, however, Starzynski stripped Siobahn O’Connor with 4 seconds left and drove the length of the court to drain a pull up 3 and give the Bulls their biggest lead of the game and the win.

O’Connor attempted a three from midcourt but it fell short.

USF had two players in double figures, Starzynski who had an amazing night scoring 63 points and Jasmine Sepulveda who also chipped in with 13.

The Bulls will now head back to Tampa before returning to the Northeast on Wednesday to prepare for their BIG EAST Conference Tournament March 6-10. Tournament pairing will be announced later tonight.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bulls Pick Up Key Win Over Cincinnati, Behind Starzynski's 53

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team placed three players in double figures Saturday afternoon en route to an 84-78 win over Cincinnati in the regular season home finale for the Bulls at the Sun Dome. The win improved USF’s record to 20-9 (7-8 BIG EAST) and marks the third time in the past five years that it has reached the 20-win plateau. The Bearcats dropped to 13-15 on the year and 3-12 in the BIG EAST.

Danielle Starzynski paced the way for the Bulls, scoring 53 points, the seventh consecutive game where she has scored 40 or more points, while Shantia Grace and Janae Stokes had 12 and 11 points respectively.

Lawson, Grace, Denson and Sepulveda – are seniors and accomplished their scoring feats on a packed Senior Day.

The Bulls jumped out of the gate quickly taking a 6-0 lead just 42 seconds into the game on back-to-back three-pointers by Starzynski.

USF seemingly took control of the game keeping the margin in double figures for the majority of the first half including a game-high 25-point lead, 39-14, reached on the second of two free throws by Sepulveda with 6:13 left before the intermission.

The Bearcats, however, cut into the Bulls’ lead using a 16-5 run to cut the USF edge to 12 points, 44-32 with 54 seconds left before the break on two made free throws by Shanassa Sanders. Cincinnati would trail by 8 at the half, 49-41.

The Bulls got their lead back to 18, 52-34, starting the second half just like the first half, on a 6-0 run, when Denson converted a lay-up off a Grace assist just two minutes into the final stanza.

After exchanging baskets for the next six minutes, the Bearcats finally cut the lead to single digits, 62-53, with two free throws by Angel Morgan with 12:04 left in the game.

Cincinnati kept its run going, getting as close as four points, 62-58, on a free throw by Sanders.

USF would get its margin back up to double digits leading by as many as 12 points twice in the final six minutes of the game, before the Bearcats made things real interesting.

After trailing 75-63 with 5:26 left, Cincinnati put together an 11-1 run to cut the Bulls’ lead to just two points, 76-74, on a three-point shot by Jill Stephens with 2:58 left in the contest. The Bearcats, however, would not get any closer.

In addition to her 53 points Starzynski recorded an impressive 16th double-double of the season recording a career-high 11 steals. That total is tied for the single most double-doubles in one season and one off equaling the school record. Starzynski has broken 2 school records so far in just her first year here but it is confirmed that she will not be returning next season.

Kahla Roudebush tallied a game-high 22 points while Sanders added 18 points in a losing effort. Angel Morgan and Stephens chipped in with 12 and 11 points respectively.

On the afternoon, USF shot 55.2 percent (32-58) from the field, including 42.1 percent (8-19) from the behind the three-point arc, and 75 percent (12-16) from the free throw line.

The Bulls also dominated in the paint outscoring the Bearcats 47-24 in the lane.

USF will travel to Philadelphia where it will close out the regular season at Villanova on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

USF Snaps Two-Game Skid With 76-69 Win At DePaul

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team came into Tuesday’s game at DePaul looking to end a two-game losing streak and pick up some momentum as it heads into its final two regular season games of the year and then down the road a bit at the BIG EAST Tournament in Hartford.

The Bulls took a big step towards gaining that momentum with a 76-69 win over the Blue Demons at the Sun Dome. The win improves USF’s record to 19-9 and 6-8 in the BIG EAST, while DePaul drops to 20-8 and 8-6 in conference play.

The Bulls fell behind early trailing 12-2 just two minutes into to the game as the Blue Demons came out hot hitting five of their first nine shots and went 3-4 from behind the three-point arc.
After DePaul led 14-4 with 15:17 left in the first half, the Bulls would put together a 6-0 run spearheaded by back-to-back three-pointers by Danielle Starzynski with at 14:36 and 14:09 left on the clock, to cut the lead to four, 14-10.

After exchanging baskets, cut the lead to two on a lay-up, 16-14, with 11:56 remaining in the first half, Starzynski would give the USF its first lead of the game, 17-16, on a three-pointer on the next possession. The Bulls would push their lead to as many as three points on a jump shot, by Janae Stokes with 10:12 left on the clock.

The Blue Demons would regain the lead with 7:41 left in the first stanza when Holly Medley hit a three-pointer to make the score 25-23. After exchanging the lead on the next several possessions, DePaul would take the edge back for the remainder of the half on a 12-foot jumper by Keisha Hampton with 5:40 left before the intermission. The Blue Demons would eventually take a 39-34 lead into the locker room at the break despite 19 first half points by Starzynski.

USF would open the second half scoring the first five points to pull even at 39-all on a three-point play by Starzynski with 17:24 left in the game. Neither team led by more than four points in the second half until Stokes hit a three-pointer to give the Bulls a five-point edge, 59-54, with 9:30 on the clock following another Sepulveda three-point play.

Starzynski would then give USF its biggest lead of the game - to that point at 67-60 with 4:09 left in the game when she drained another three-point shot. DePaul would cut the lead to four points, 68-64, with two minutes left however would not get any closer as the Bulls extended the lead to a game-high 11 points, 75-64, before settling on the final margin.

Starzynski would finish with a game-high 48 points on 18-22 shooting from the field, including going 13-13 from the free throw line. Stokes chipped in with 20 points and Grace added 8.

The loss marked just the second of the season for the Blue Demons at home. USF is back in action for its regular season home finale on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. when it butts heads with Cincinnati. The Bulls will close out the regular season on March 2 at 7 p.m. against Villanova before heading to the BIG EAST Conference Tournament in Hartford, March 6-10.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bulls Stumble against WVU

With four games left in the regular season, coming into tonight’s crucial BIG EAST Conference women’s basketball game at West Virginia, the University of South Florida knew it didn’t have much time to waste if it wanted to make a push in the league standings as it jockey’s for seeding position for the BIG EAST Tournament, while also staying in the NCAA Tournament conversation. The Bulls were coming off a tough loss on Tuesday night at home against Notre Dame, but USF couldn’t take advantage of their opportunity as West Virginia snapped its three-game BIG EAST winning streak with a 90-75 win over the Bulls in front of a crowd of 6,232, the third largest to ever see a women’s basketball home game. The loss drops the Bulls’ record to 18-9 and 5-8 in conference play.

The Mountaineers jumped out quickly and looked like they were going to take control of the game from the start. West Virginia took a fast 7-0 lead just one minute and 40 seconds into the game on two field goals and by Takisha Granberry and a three-pointer by Liz Repella.The Mountaineers would extend their lead to as many as 12 points, 20-8, with 12:56 left in the first half on a trey by Alex Sanabria off an assist by Repella.The Bulls, however, would finally settle down and get back in the game using a 10-2 run, following the Sanabria three, to cut the lead to two points, 22-20, on a lay-up by Porche Grant off her only offensive rebound of the half with 8:13 left before the break.

After West Virginia pushed its edge back up to as many as seven points twice in the last three minutes, USF would cut the lead to two, again, 39-37, on a jumper by Danielle Starzynski in the paint with 58 seconds left in the half. The Mountaineers, however, would hit two-back-to-back treys before taking a six-point, 45-39, lead into the locker room at the break.

Repella and Granberry led the way for West Virginia in the first half pouring in 18 and 12 points apiece. Danielle Starzynski had 21 points for the Bulls in the first stanza.After starting the game cold, USF would finish the half hitting 46.7 percent (14-30) from the field in the first 20 minutes while the Mountaineers were 17-43 (39.5 percent) from the floor, including 50 percent (8-16) from behind the arc.

In the second half, the Bulls would come out and cut the West Virginia lead to four points, twice, first at 49-45 with 17:45 left on a three-point play by Starzynski, and then with 16:50 left on the clock on a lay-up by Grace off an assist from Starzynski to make the score 51-47. USF, however, would not get any closer the rest of the way.The Mountaineers would eventually extend their lead to as many as 17 points, 90-73, with 49 seconds before settling on the final margin.

Starzynski led the way for USF with 53 points, a new career high at USF, 10 steals and a career-high seven blocked shots. Her double-double was the eleventh of the season and of her career at USF, and the 27th of her collegiate career including her time at Seton Hall. Grace also recorded double figures with 12 points. Repella finished the game with 34 points and 13 rebounds, and Ashley Powell and Granberry added 19 and 13 points respectively.

As a team, the Bulls finished the game shooting 42.2 percent (27-64) from the field, however just 27.3 percent (6-22) from behind the arc. Defensively, USF set a school record for blocked shots in a game with 17. That total also tied a BIG EAST Conference mark for rejections in a game.

The Bulls will now take on DePaul on Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. EST)/7 p.m. As always stay tunred for your updates and GO BULLS!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Starzynski Confirms That She Will Not Return for 09'-10' Season

Throughout the season there has been much speculation as to whether sophomore transfer Danielle Starzynski would stick around in Tampa and finish out her 4 years. That speculation was put to rest wednesday night in a press conference when Starzynski confirmed that she would not be returing to play for USF in the 2009-2010 season.

When Starzynski was asked what her reasons were for making this decision she responded saying, "The basketball organization here at USF has treated me well but at the end of the day i just don't think it's a good fit for me. I need to find a team that better suits my playing style and where i can fit in more and i don't see USF being that team. The coaching staff and I have had our differences as many know and the best thing for me to do is transfer at this point. As of right now i'm not sure where i'll be transferring to but i'm looking to go back home to New Jersey. I wish the girls the best of luck next season. My time here has been a great experience and i appreciate all that's been done for me but it's time for change, i need to move on."

Starzynski is the Bulls leading scorer averaging 35ppg along with 7 steals and 4 assists. This will be a huge loss for the Bulls next season as they also graduate 7 seniors. It looks like the 2009-2010 season will be a big re-grouping year for this Bulls basketball team.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Upset Minded Bulls Fall to No. 24/24 Notre Dame

Lindsay Schrader scored 26 points and Becca Bruszewski added 20 to help No. 24 Notre Dame rally past the University South Florida 86-79 on Tuesday night.

Notre Dame (18-6, 7-5 Big East Conference) scored the first five points of the game, but a 15-2 run enabled USF (18-8, 5-7) to lead by as many as 14 midway through the first half. Danielle Starzynski paced the Bulls with 39 points, and Janae Stokes scored all of her 15 before the Bulls took a 58-51 advantage into the break. Shantia Grace (11) also scored in double figures.

Schrader, who also finished with a team-high 11 rebounds, was one of three Notre Dame players to reach double digits before halftime with 14 points. Bruszewski and Ashley Barlow each chipped in 11. Barlow finished with 16 and Erica Solomon had 10.

The difference in the game, which included nine ties and eight lead changes, was at the free throw line. The Irish hit on 30 of 35 attempts while USF collected 19 points on 32 tries.
The most deflating free throws against the Bulls were the four Notre Dame was awarded with the score tied at 75 with 3:28 left on the clock.

Starzynski was charged with a technical foul for throwing an elbow at Bruszewski after fouling the Notre Dame sophomore. Melissa Lechlitner converted both technical shots, then Bruszewski added a pair to give the Irish a lead they protected down the stretch.

USF, which has dropped four of its past five conference home games and six in a row overall against ranked opponents, connected on half of its 34 shots from the floor in the first half. The Bulls sank only nine of 33 after the intermission, blowing a halftime lead for the first time in 16 occasions.

Bruszewski has scored in double figures in each of her past five games. She reached double digits six times last season. Grant, who entered the game with a team-leading 8.2 rebounds a game, finished with a dozen.

"We were intimitated by Notre Dame tonight and we played like it. It definitely showed, we didn't come out here and play the type of game we needed to in order to get this win and that's why we weren't successful," Coach Fernandez had to say after the game.

Starzynski also added, "We played scared tonight. As a team, we came in with a defeated mindset just because Notre Dame is a higher ranked team and that crippled us from the beginning. You'll never win a game playing scared. We did everything wrong and you can't expect to win when you play the way we did tonight."

The Bulls are back in action on Saturday against West Virginia. As always stay tuned for your updates and GO BULLS!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bulls Send Seton Hall Home With 80-51 Loss

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team picked up another key BIG EAST Conference win Saturday night defeating Seton Hall 80-51 at the Sun Dome. In getting the win, the Bulls (18-7, 5-6 BIG EAST) recorded their biggest margin of victory since joining the BIG EAST – 29 points – and also snapped a three-game home conference losing streak dating back to their 76-60 loss to Louisville on Jan. 14. USF was coming off a big conference win over Syracuse on Feb. 8, beating the Orange 88-79.

The game was close for the first two-and-a-half minutes, until the Bulls pulled out to a seven-point lead, 11-4, with 16:36 left in the half on the first of three three-pointers by Danielle Starzynski in the first stanza.

The Pirates (15-10, 3-9 BIG EAST), however, would use a 6-0 run to cut the lead to one, on a lay-up by Shantel Brown just under two minutes later. Seton Hall would then take its second and final lead of the game, 14-13, on a jumper by Ebonie Williams with 12:16 left in the half.
After Shantia Grace hit two free throws to give USF its lead back, 15-14 a minute later, Starzynski would spark the Bulls with six straight points on three consecutive possessions and spearhead a 12-0 run that would give USF a 25-14 lead and blow the game open with 9:05 left before the intermission. The Bulls would close out the half scoring 12 of the next 21 points to take a 37-23 lead at the break.

USF came out in the second half and took total control outscoring the Pirates 17-3 in the first five minutes and 44 seconds to take what was its biggest lead of the game to that point – a 26-point advantage at 54-28 – on a lay-up by Starzynski with 14:16 left in the contest.
The Bulls would eventually push that lead to as many as 37 points, 75-38, on a trey by Wynne with 3:57 remaining in the contest before the final outcome.

Starzynski would finish the game with 45 points on 19-24 shooting from the field, including 6-10 from three-point range, and 6-6 from the charity stripe. This marks the 4th consecutive game where Starzynski has scored 40 or more points. Starsynski also had 8 steals and 6 assists in the win. Wynne and Jessica Lawson would each record 14 points while Grace finished with 10 points in the win. Brittany Denson, Porche Grant and Melissa Dalembert all shared rebounding honors grabbing nine for USF.

The Bulls shot 49.2 percent (30-61) from the field in the win and also dominated the scoring in the paint 44-14. In addition, the Bulls had the advantage in second chance points (19-9), fast break points (18-4) and bench scoring (27-6)USF also outrebounded Seton Hall 52-19, including 22-15 on the offensive boards.

Up next for the Bulls is another crucial league match-up at home against No. 22/22 Notre Dame Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. Stay tuned for updates and GO BULLS.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rise Above

This a story that was published in this week's edition of the school paper, and it focuses on the Bulls team member Danielle Starzynski. An interesting read.....

"Rise Above"
By: Kevin Monahann, USF newspaper staff
February 10, 2009

TAMPA, Fl., In a perfect world, this story would be only about basketball. It would profile one of the best girls’ hoops players coming out of the 2007 graduating class, a Jersey-bred McDonald’s All-American nominee.

In the real world it’s about so much more. It’s about how a girl’s gift became a curse and how what she loved to do more than anything became a painful reminder of some of the worst times of her life. If life was fair, Danielle Starzynski, who dons the nickname “Dstar”, would be in the situation that she had always dreamed about. She was the leader of a Columbia High School team that went 33-2 and came 2 games away from a state championship. A 5-foot-8 shooting guard, she was ranked the nation’s No. 21 senior recruit in the HoopGurlz 100- No. 3 in her home state of NJ- and had numerous scholarship offers.

But Danielle’s incredible success on the court has been marred by unimaginable troubles and tragedies off it. Starzynski’s senior season seemed to consist of a dark cloud that could not escape her, bringing everything from run-ins with the law to deaths of those close to her. An exciting, dynamic player, who always put on a show with a smile plastered to her face, slowly started showing us a more vicious expression. All in one season she was arrested three times and charged with convictions that continuously questioned her image and character. Along with those troubles, Starzynski had many confrontations with her coach which were being publicly displayed, as well as deaths of 2 people very close to her. One being her best friend who was murdered at halftime of one of her basketball games and the other being her Grandmother whom she previously called the most important person in her life.

These incidents ultimately revoked her scholarship to play for Rutgers University where she had signed a letter of intent, along with any other scholarship hopes she had, including Georgia tech, Temple, UCLA, and NC State to name a few. Danielle was seeing her dreams vanish in front of her, slip right through her grip and she knew there was nothing she could do about it. Through all these trials and tribulations, everyday was a challenge and as one could imagine, the basketball court was anything but a sanctuary.

After missing several games due to her problems with the police and ongoing heart problems, Danielle insisted that she not take any time off to mourn the deaths she was dealing with. She made it clear to her coach that she wouldn’t sit out anymore games and was going to be there for her team. She played through all the pain she was bearing, but it was anything but easy. Walking onto the court with 4 initials and 2 hearts now added to her shoes she would often touch her lips and then point up to the sky signaling to her lost loved ones. To those around her it was clear that Danielle had a whole new reason to be playing her heart out, but a knowingly consistent player started struggling, having many ups and downs in her games. It was clear that as much as she tried to play her game and not let the outside issues affect her, they were doing just that.

“That was definitely one of the toughest times of my life without a doubt. It seemed like I could never see one good day, everything was just going wrong and I was trying to find ways to deal with it and just continue playing the way I had been but it only got harder and harder,” Starzynski says about her senior season. “I felt like all my issues were taking me away from basketball. There were times I felt like giving up, times I definitely had to stop and question my love for the game. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t give up, something wouldn’t let me.”

Somehow , Starzynski who had a reputation for being a very tough and rugged player, to no surprise found a way to fight through it. She had an amazing postseason where she averaged 37 points and led her team to the New Jersey group 1 championship. At the end of the day though, Starzynski knew that her college hopes were done and along with everyone else, remained unsure about her future. That is until she got a last minute call from Seton Hall University offering her a full scholarship, possibly her last chance at playing college basketball. It might not have been the highly ranked basketball powerhouse she was looking for, but it was an offer and one she couldn’t refuse.

“When I got the offer from Seton Hall I was really excited and even though I wasn’t even considering them as a school, this was my last chance, my last hope of playing ball. I was at a point where everything was falling apart and it’s like they threw me a piece and said here we’ll help you put some things back together. They saved my career and I’ll forever be grateful for that,” Starzynski says.

Expected to bring a whole new spark and dynamic to the Seton Hall Pirates team, many were excited for her arrival, especially head coach Phyllis Mangina.

“Danielle was a real catch for us because we never expected to get a player of her caliber to play on our team. Normally they go to the Uconn’s, the Tennessee’s the Rutgers’. We were very excited to bring her into her program and we were sure she would turn things around for us,” Mangina told us.

Shortly into her freshman season though that dark cloud seemed to be creeping back in. Starzynski was displaying many troubles in the classroom as well as out, getting in trouble and exhibiting behavior very reminiscent to her senior year. She would end up being suspended numerous times along with seeing more bench than play time during the season. This seemed a little too familiar for Danielle and many wondered whether she would ever escape this slump she seemed to be in. Although on the court she was amazing and displayed an over-achiever’s effort in practice, it was her off-court decisions that kept her from playing the game she loved. At the end of her freshman year Danielle announced that she would be transferring out of the Pirate’s basketball program and going to the University of South Florida to play for Big East foe USF Bulls. Starzynski seemed to be taking on the role of an NBA rookie who can’t seem to find their place on a team. As many know these are the type of situations that set one up for a very short, rough career.

But would Starzynski’s career be a constant struggle, beginning during her senior year and continuing on only to haunt her? Had she lost her love for the game that she once called the love of her life? Had her constant heart problems hindered her ability to play this game, or was her love for it all the heart she needed to go on?

Flash now to Tampa, Fl, the Sun Dome, the final minute’s ticking off the men’s USF Bulls teams’ basketball game, everyone celebrating. Look courtside though and you’ll see Danielle Starzynski slipping out of her seat and heading towards the exit. Dressed in designer jeans and a fancy jacket with a cell phone attached to her ear, she looks ready for a night out on the town. But instead of leaving the building, she makes a hard left into the locker room and re-emerges five minutes later in a cutoff bulls t-shirt and gym shorts.

Starzynski picks up a basketball and shoots her first three pointer. The janitors finish sweeping the trash out of the bleachers as she shoots free throws. Starzynski then begins to work on 15 footers.

“She does this all the time,” said Tommy Politi, one of the Sun Dome maintenance men, the one who holds the keys and has to close the gym whenever Starzynski leaves. Sometimes he’ll watch TV as he waits for Starzynski to finish. This time he just watched the kid work.

“We need a few more Dstars,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe a whole roster of them. Then we’d be really great. But this kid is something special.”

Even when times look hopeless for Starzynski all you have to do is watch her and see that this star has not given up, and it seems as though she never will. She might still be going through her off-court troubles and still struggling to find her place on this USF Bulls team, but the sophomore with the sweet jump shot is still convinced better days are coming. She is still shooting these practice shots every night she can, still shooting for something better.

“It’s been a rough couple of months, trying to adjust to this program and build it up to where we need it to be. For me personally it’s been a rough couple of years of basketball and trying to find my place,” Starzynski said. “I truly believe though that I will find my place eventually, I never let the little things stop me from doing what I do best and that’s play basketball. I’m gonna continue to put in the hard work that I’ve put in from day one and pray that things work out for me. You gotta learn to fight through everything if it’s what you really want, you gotta have thick skin in this game.”

So that’s what she keeps doing, even if she’s in it alone on some nights, even as the losses and problems away from the court keep piling up. Basketball will continue to be there for Danielle, even through all the ups and downs as she struggles through this bittersweet love affair she’s had with this game for so long. And she will continue to be there for basketball, aiming to give back what the game has given her, meanwhile showing off a talent that can only be explained as god-given. She knows that the world isn’t perfect and that life isn’t fair, but she seems determined to fight through it. Her heart wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Starzynski's Career Night Squeeze Bulls Past Orange, 88-79

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team headed to Central New York this weekend to take on Syracuse in a key BIG EAST Conference match-up Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. The game pitted two teams that had struggled of late after getting out of the gate quickly at the beginning of the year.

USF, who was playing its fourth road game in its last six outings, took advantage of the opportunity to move up in the BIG EAST standings with an 88-79 win over the Orange. The victory improved the Bulls’ record to 17-7 and 4-6 in league play while Syracuse is 17-7 and 4-6 in the conference.

Danielle Starzynski had an impressive scoring night with 47 points while Jessica Lawson added 16 points in the win. This game marked the second consecutive game where Starzynski posted 40 or more points.

The Bulls jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead just over three minutes into the contest on back-to-back field goals by Jessica Lawson and a three-point play by Danielle Starzynski.

USF would continue to control the game pushing its lead to as many 11, twice, first on a three-pointer by Shantia Grace with 7:18 left in the half to make the score, 29-18, and then again at 6:32 on a trey by Starzynski with 6:32 left in the first stanza. Syracuse, however would get back into the game closing the last six minutes of the half on a 20-9 run to cut the lead to 2 at intermission.

The Orange had the opportunity to take the lead at the break; however, Erica Morrow hit just one of two free throws with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.

The Bulls came out in the second half scoring the first eight points of the game, and like the beginning of the first half, the second 20 minutes was spearheaded by the post players. Denson took a pass and connected on transition while Lawson scored the next two baskets, the first of which came off a Grace assist. Danielle Starsynski would cap the eight-point stretch hitting two free throws with 17:12 on the clock to make the score 46-38.

Syracuse would make another push to take its first lead of the game, 49-48, on a field goal with 12:56 left in the game. The lead, however, was short-lived as Lawson gave USF its edge back, 51-48, hitting a lay-up and getting fouled just 25 seconds later. She would miss the free throw.

The Orange would tie the game twice between the 11:30 and 10:29 mark, however could not take the lead the rest of the game.

In addition to Starzynski and Stokes hitting double figures in the win, USF also placed three other players in double-digits. Denson netted 14 points while Grace and Sepulveda each recorded 13 points.

Michael poured in 27 points while Chandrea Jones had 21 points in a losing effort.

Interviewers talked with Starzynski about her performance after the game and this is what she had to say, "I think we went out there and played hard tonight which is what we've been needing to do all season. We left it all out on the floor and didn't hold back. We knew this was a big game for us and we pulled it off. I knew i had to step up and be productive and i think i did that so i'm definitely happy with this win tonight."

The Bulls will get a week off, before their next game, to prepare for Seton Hall on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome. Stay tuned for updates. GO BULLS!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bulls Drop 71-56 Decision To Marquette

The University of South Florida Women’s Basketball team dropped another crucial BIG EAST Conference game falling to Marquette for the second time this season, 71-56 at the Sun Dome. The loss moves the USF to 16-7 on the season and 3-6 in league play.

The Bulls, who were coming off a big win at Rutgers on Saturday, had an opportunity to make a significant move in the BIG EAST standings with win over the Golden Eagles.

The two teams combined for nine ties and four lead changes in the first half while neither team led by more than seven in the first 20 minutes. Marquette would take its biggest lead of the half, 33-26, just prior to the intermission, and although the Bulls seemed within striking distance, they were despite shooting just 29.6 percent (8-27) from the floor in the first stanza.
The Golden Eagles defense came out strong in the second half scoring the first five points of the half and not allowing the Bulls to score until Danielle Starzynski hit a lay-up with 15:44 left in the game to make the score 38-28.

After Starzynski cut the lead to 10, USF would put together a 16-7 run to cut the lead to three, 45-42, whenStarzynski connected on two free throws with 10:01 left in the contest.
Marquette, however would ice the game with a 26-12 run over the final 10 minutes, a stretch that wasn’t helped by 6-13 shooting from the free throw line by the Bulls.

Starzynski displayed an amzing effort in her first game back after a 6 game suspension, scoring 43 points on the night, a new career high. Janae Stokes also added 11 points in the loss. Porche Grant grabbed 12 rebounds.

For the Golden Eagles, Angel Robinson poured in a game-high 30 points.
On the night, the Bulls shot just 32.7 percent (17-52) from the field and 52.9 percent (18-34) from the free throw line. They were also beaten on the boards being outrebounded 54-38, including 22-1 on the offensive glass.

Up next for the Bulls is a trip to Syracuse to take on the Orange on Sunday Feb. 8. Stay tuned for your updates and GO BULLS!

Monday, February 2, 2009

60 Seconds with Danielle Starzynski

The USF newspaper plays a little game called 60 seconds with athletes and this weeks version was with none other than the USF Bull's own Danielle Starzynski. Check it out below:

What is your favorite basketball moment?
-DS: My favorite basketball moment definitely has to be in high school when we played one of our rivals morristown in the playoffs and they were talking smack the whole game about how they would beat us. It ended up being a really close game, we were down 2 with 6 seconds left so i ran up the court took the ball and drained a 3 won the game for us. I don't know why that stands out so much but it does.

What age did you start playing basketball?
-DS: I've been playing basketball ever since i can remember. I picked up a ball as soon as i can walk but competitively playing i was like 5.

Which teammate is the loudest?
-DS: Some of my teammates would probably say me but i don't think i'm that loud so im gonna go with Janae, she's just naturally loud.

What is your favorite TV show?
-DS: Hmm thats a rough one i got a few shows im fond of but i think im gonna have to say Grey's Anatomy. Love that ish.

What was your favorite subject in high school?
-DS: Gym hands down lol.

Who is your favorite basketball player?
-DS: My favorite of all time is Michael Jordan, greatest to ever play the game that man's a god in my eyes. Current player though is Allen Iverson i've loved him for a while now but Kobe and Lebron knock my socks off those guys are unreal.

What is your favorite sport besides basketball?
-DS: Football, i'd love to be a football player. I could see myself as a wide reciever, the next chad johnson or something what you think? (laughing).

Who is your favorite musical artist or group?
-DS: Weezy F. Baby please say the baby (laughing).

Who is your favorite actress?
-DS: I don't think i have a favorite but i love Lauren London, oh and Halle Berry.

Who is your favorite superhero?
-DS: Flash, dude is so quickk.

What is your nickname?
-DS: Most people call me Dstar. Holla (laughing).

What is your favorite hobby, besides playing basketball?
-DS: Shopping, i have a problem i shop way too much but i don't care i love it. That new movie confessions of a shopaholic yeah that's about me (laughing).

What is your favorite place in Tampa?
-DS: I love the beach, everyone i've been to theyre so nice, we don't have that icey water and smooth sand back home.

What's your favorite vacation spot?
-DS: I went to Hawaii and it was gorgeous so thats definitely my favorite but i still haven't been to Jamaica and i really wanna go.

If you weren't playing basketball what would you be doing?
-DS: If i wasn't playing basketball i'd probably be dead (laughing) no i'm joking i'd be a stripper. (Laughing) No i'm just kidding, honestly idk i'd probably own my own shoe store. Or i'd be a music producer.

Best present ever recieved?
-DS: Nobody buys me presents its terrible (laughing). No but the best present i ever recieved was from myself and i bought myself a pair of og jordan 13's the black playoff ones oh my god they're so sexy i still have them i dropped a lot of money on them but it was so worth it.

What can fans expect at a Bulls game?
-DS: They can expect entertainment. I, along with my team, go out there every night and play our hearts out and put on a show and we aim to entertain the fans and i think that's exactly what we do. It's a real fast paced dedicated style of basketball and we play hard everytime we go out there so if you enjoy basketball you'll love our game.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stokes Leads USF Past Rutgers, 59-56

Shantia Grace converted a three-point play with 7.9 seconds to play and South Florida beat Rutgers 59-56 after blowing a 19-point second-half lead on Saturday. The Bulls (16-6, 3-5 Big East Conference) survived one final comeback by the Scarlet Knights (12-7, 4-4) when Epiphanny Prince's running 25-footer banked off the backboard and rolled off the rim.
Janae Stokes added 20 points for South Florida.

The Bulls seemingly took total control with a 28-4 spurt bridging the halves and then fell apart in the final five-plus minutes as Rutgers ran off 17 straight points, tying the game at 56 on a 3-pointer by Brittany Ray.

Grace missed the front end of a one-and-one with 47 seconds to play, giving Rutgers a chance to take the lead. However, the Scarlet Knights, who went long stretches with points in the game, could not get off a shot and turned the ball over on a shot clock violation with under 16 seconds to play. Grace broke the Rutgers' press -- which had been so lethal in the comeback -- and drove the lane for an off-balance layup, giving the Bulls their final lead and their first win over Rutgers in four tries. Grace finished with nine points on 2 of 8 shooting.

Prince had 25 points to lead Rutgers, including 10 in the 17-0 run. The Scarlet Knights were coming off an upset of No. 17 Notre Dame earlier this week. It was their first win over a ranked team this season. Despite not having head coach Jose Fernandez during todays game, due to health concerns, the Bulls pulled off this big conference win. The Bulls return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd when they take on Marquette. USF will have their leading scorer Danielle Starzynski back, as she will be coming off a 6 game suspension. As always stay tuned for more updates. GO BULLS!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

USF Ends Two-Game Skid With 86-62 Win Over Providence

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team ended its two-game losing streak with a 86-62 win over Providence Tuesday night at Alumni Hall. USF improves its record to 15-5 and 2-4 in the BIG EAST.

The Bulls fell behind in the early going as the Friars took a quick 7-0 lead capped by a three-point shot by Chelsea Marandola just 1:14 into the game. USF would then get back into the contest when Porche Grant cut the Providence lead to three points, 10-7 with 15:29 left in the half. On its next possession, Jazmine Sepulveda would tie the game with a three-point shot with 13:43 left on the clock. Sepulveda would then hit two more trey’s, in two consecutive possessions down the floor, to give the Bulls their first lead of the game, 16-14 with 12:23 left in the first stanza and capping an 11-4 run. Providence however would come out after the 12 minute timeout to score seven unanswered points to regain the lead 21-16 with 11:17 left in the half on a jumper by Marandola.

The Bulls would take the lead back for the remainder of the first game on a lay-up by Jessica Lawson off an assist from Shantia Grace with 7:39 left. USF would eventually extend its lead to as many as six points, 37-31, in the first half on Sepulveda’s final three-pointer of the half with 1:19 left before the intermission. The Bulls came out in the second half and took advantage of their athleticism and defensive intensity. USF took control of the game right out of the locker room with three of its first five field goals coming from behind the arc, with one coming from Janae Stokes and two from Grace, to give the Bulls a 50-39 lead with 16:13 left in the game.

The Bulls also forced the Friars into seven turnovers in the first nine minutes after recording eight in the entire first half. USF would eventually push its lead to as many as 26 points, 86-60 with 1:23 left in the game, on a lay-up by Grant. The Bulls would shoot 45.7 percent in the second stanza, including 50 percent (6-12) from behind the three-point arc en route to the win. On the night, USF would place five players in double figures led by Sepulveda with 25 points, one shy of her career-high of 26. In addition to Sepulveda, Grace would chip in with 18 points while Stokes and Lawson had 12 points and Brittany Denson chipped in with 10 points. The Bulls remain without leading scorer Starzynski, who still has 3 games left in her suspension.

USF also paced three players in double-digits on the glass hauling down 13 rebounds. Lawson and Denson had 12 and 11 respectively. It was Lawson’s third double-double of the season and was Denson’s first of the year.The Bulls will return home on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. when they face Georgetown in the second game of a day-night doubleheader. The USF men’s team will face Villanova at Noon.

Bulls Fall to Panthers 79-47

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team hit the road for the first of two, two-game road trips, that it will take this season, and it is extremely appropriate that the Bulls’ first stop on the trip comes in the city that is understandably pre-occupied with another big game this weekend ... Pittsburgh. Well, in its own world, USF’s game with the Panthers on Saturday afternoon was just as big, and as meaningful, as the AFC title game that will be played on the other side of town on Sunday night between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

The Bulls came into the game with Pitt with a 1-3 record in BIG EAST Conference play, and in need of a big win to get momentum back as they head to Rhode Island to take on Providence on Tuesday night. In addition, to make things even more interesting, the two schools have created a nice little rivalry since the “Green and Gold” joined the BIG EAST, with four of the five games previously played being decided by a total of nine points and in the last 10 seconds of the contest.

Well, another close finish was not in the cards today as the Panthers handed the Bulls its second straight loss with a 79-47 setback at the Petersen Events Center. The defeat drops USF’s record to 14-5 and 1-4 in league play. The Bulls came out and battled from the opening tip leading by two, 13-11, with 12:27 left in the first half on two of Porche Grant’s six first-half points. Pittsburgh, however, would hold USF without a field goal for almost the next seven minutes, until Shantia Grace hit a driving lay-up with 5:34 left before the intermission to make the score 24-17. The Bulls’ only points during that stretch – before Grace’s lay-up – were two free throws by the senior guard with 7:34 left on the clock before the break.

The Panthers would then round out the final five minutes on a 13-2 run and holding a 37-19 edge entering the locker room at halftime. The Bulls’ last field goal of the half came on a lay-up from Grant off an assist from Allyson Speed with 3:57 remaining. USF’s 19 points were the fewest scored in the first half this season and the second fewest in a half all year. USF shot 20.7 percent (6-29) from the field in the first stanza while Pittsburgh hit 35 percent of its shots (14-40).

The Panthers came out of the locker room much like the same way it went in. Pitt outscored the Bulls 20-11 in the first 10 minutes of the final half, while shooting 23.8 percent (5-21). During that 10 minute stretch, the Panthers used an 18-4 run from the 17:42 mark to the 10:01 mark of the second half. Pittsburgh would extend its lead to as many as 37 points (78-41) before the final buzzer.

Porche Grant led USF with 11 points and 11 rebounds, recording her fourth double-double of the year. The Bulls were again without a key player in Danielle Starzynski who is still serving a suspension due to personal discrepencies.

Bulls Fall to No. 7 Louisville

The USF Bulls suffered a road loss to No. 7 ranked Louisville on Wednesday night. Brandie Radde gave Louisville a big lift off the bench. Radde scored 19 points and Angel McCoughtry added 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 7 Louisville to a 76-60 victory over South Florida.

"We started getting stops on defense and we started knocking down shots,'' said Radde, who entered averaging 3.4 points per game. Louisville (17-1, 4-0 Big East) also got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Candyce Bingham. The Cardinals were able to outscore South Florida 15-8 after McCoughtry, the Big East player of the week, fouled out with five minutes remaining. "That's really when we needed to buckle down and make a stop,'' South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. Shantia Grace scored 15 points, and Jessica Lawson had 14 points and 16 rebounds for South Florida (14-4, 1-3). The Bulls had 24 turnovers and hit just 14 of 28 free throw attempts. "Definitely turnovers,'' Lawson said. "They got us out of our element.''

Bingham scored 13 points and Radde had 11 as Louisville took a 38-24 halftime lead. The Cardinals had a 23-6 run over the final seven minutes of the first half. "I thought we did a very good job of breaking the press and scoring off of it,'' Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "I thought they stopped pressing us because we scored in transition. We only turned the ball over 14 times, and for us, that doesn't happen very often. I was pleased with that.''

McCoughtry had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists during the opening half. Three of her assists set up baskets by Bingham late in the half. South Florida pulled to 56-50 with 6:26 left. The Bulls were held to just 10 points the rest of the game. The Bulls were without their leading scorer Danielle Starzynski who was serving the first of her 6 game suspension.

"We knew they were going to make a run,'' Bingham said. "Coach talks about that. We just had to keep our composure and I think that's what we did.'' Louisville was outrebounded 53-46, something that Walz said was a concern. "They rebound the ball as well as any team in the country,'' Walz said. "They absolutely owned us in the paint. If we don't get stronger there, it's going to be tough.''

Monday, January 12, 2009

Starzynski Leads Bulls to Overtime Win Over St. John's

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team earned its first BIG EAST win of the season by defeating St Johns 81-71 in an overtime nail biter in the Sun Dome tonight. The win brings the Bulls to 14-3 on the season and 1-2 in BIG EAST play. St Johns is now 13-2 on the season and 1-1 in the BIG EAST.

The two team’s came out of the locker room and went toe-to-toe for most of the first half with neither team leading by more than six points for the first 12:10 of the game. The Red Storm would make the first move – albeit a small one – pushing the lead to as many as nine points twice, at 30-21 with 7:11 left in the half and at 41-32 with 1:58 left before the intermission.

Jazmine Sepulveda would record a steal and lay-up to cut the lead to seven, 41-34 with 43 seconds left in the first. After Monique McLean hit the second of two free throws to give the Red Storm an eight-point lead, Jana Stokes would hit, what would be arguable her biggest shot of her short USF career, draining a three-pointer with 13 seconds left to cut the St. John’s lead to five 42-37 at the break. The trey was the first for Stokes since Dec. 30 at Tulane who, up until her three at that point, was 0-17 from behind the arc.

USF tried to come out of the locker room for the second half and capitalize of the momentum that Stokes gave them at the end of the first, but St. John’s never bent despite the Bulls cutting the lead to two points, 42-40, on a three by Starzynski with 19:20 left and then later in the half as USF cut the lead to three, 53-50, off a steal by Porche Grant and a lay-up by Danielle Starzynski with 12:16 left in regulation.

The Bulls would then take its first lead since the 13:16 mark of the first half when Starzynski hit a short jumper to give them the lead, 57-55, with 9:12 left in regulation. The two teams would exchange the lead for the next five-plus minutes before USF would seemingly take control of the game leading by six points, 68-62, on a jumper shot by Jessica Lawson with 2:19 left.

The Red Storm, however would have none of that, closing regulation on an 8-2 run, tying the game at 70-all on two free throws by McLean with 1.4 seconds left on the clock. The Bulls had one last opportunity before the buzzer when Shantia Grace banked a midcourt shot from the sideline, falling out of bounds, off the rim.

USF came out in the extra session and took control holding St. John’s to no field goals and outscoring the Red Storm 11-1 en route to the win behind nine points from Starzynski in overtime. The Bulls placed four players in double figures led by Starzynski’s 19 points. Stokes would finish the game with 13 points while Sepulveda and Grace finished with 11 and 10 points respectively. Sepulveda tied her career-high with nine assists and Grant grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in the win.

The Red Storm had three players in double digits led by McLean with a game-high 30 points, including 17 in the first half, and Centhya Hart and Da’Shena Stevens who netted 12 and 10 points respectively. Hart also had eight rebounds.

USF will return to action on Wednesday night, at 7 p.m., with another key BIG EAST Conference match-up against No. 10/12 Louisville. AS always stay tuned for your USF Bulls updates. GO BULLS!

No. 1/1 UConn Defeats USF

Maya Moore scored 24 points and Tina Charles had 17 points and 12 rebounds Tuesday night, leading top-ranked Connecticut to an 83-37 rout of South Florida in the Huskies' Big East opener. UConn (14-0, 1-0) has opened the season with at least 14 straight wins for the second straight year and the eighth time since 1994-95. The Huskies have won 17 conference openers in a row and 100 consecutive games against non-ranked opponents since a loss at Arizona State in December 2004.

USF (13-3, 0-2) entered the game as the nation's highest scoring team (89.9 per game, just ahead of UConn's 88.8). The Bulls missed 20 of their first 27 shots to fall behind 45-26 at the half, then only managed 11 points after halftime.

Moore had 20 points, six rebounds and three assists at the break, and the Huskies held USF's leading scorer, Danielle Starzynski, without a field goal for the first 16 minutes of the game. Grace finished with 21 points on 11-for-19 shooting, and backcourt mate Jazmine Sepulveda was 0-for-8.

The victory extended UConn's regular-season winning streak to 22 games and ended USF's school-record 12-game home winning streak before a crowd of 4,290, up from the 737 the Bulls averaged for their first 10 games at the Sun Dome. Moore scored 15 of the Huskies' first 21 points and finished 10 of 19 from the field. Charles had her 29th career double-double and Kalana Greene added 13 for UConn. Renee Montgomery had 9 points, as no UConn starter played no more than 26 minutes.

UConn led 26-16 before using a 9-2 spurt to pull away for good. As poorly as USF shot in the opening half (10-of-35, 28.6 percent), the Bulls struggled even more after halftime (5-for-26, 19.2 percent). The Huskies scored the first nine points of the second half, building the lead to 54-26 with 15:39 to go. The closest South Florida got after that was 24 points.

Starzynski led USF with 21 points. Brittany Denson had six points and 12 rebounds, while the Bulls' leading scorer off the bench, Janae Stokes, missed all six of her 3-point attempts and finished 1-for-9 with four points.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bulls Win Streak Snapped at Marquette, 68-60

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team knew coming into tonight’s game that it was going to have to elevate it’s intensity, and it’s effort on the floor a notch, with the start of BIG EAST Conference action if it wanted to continue it’s winning ways and make a splash on the conference scene this year. USF also knew that despite the best start in school history coming into the game, it didn’t want to be 0-1 heading into a match up with top ranked Connecticut on Tuesday night at the Sun Dome (7 p.m.). Well, the Bulls’ luck ran out tonight as Marquette handed USF a 68-60 loss tonight at the Al McGuire Center, snapping its nine-game winning streak one-game shy of tying the school mark for consecutive wins.

The Bulls (13-2, 0-1 BIG EAST) came out and took control in the first half leading by as many as eight points, on a lay up by Brittany Denson with 7:32 left in the first stanza. After exchanging baskets for nearly the next six minutes, Marquette (10-5, 1-0 BIG EAST), would take advantage of USF’s 0-3 shooting and two turnovers in the final 1:48 of the first half to take it’s first lead of the game, 30-29, on a lay up by Marissa Thrower with 14 seconds left before the break. The Bulls, who trailed at the intermission for just the third time this year, and for the second straight game, shot just 34.3 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes while the Golden Eagles hit 34.4 percent of their shots. Marquette, however hot 80 percent from the charity stripe to USF’s 66.7 percent. Much like the Bulls in the first half, the Golden Eagles came out and established themselves out of the locker room. Marquette opened the second half on a 7-2 run holding USF without a field goal for the first 4:11 of the second, when Jessica Lawson hit a lay up off a rebound.

After Marquette took a 41-33 lead, Danielle Starzynski would get the Bulls right back into the game hitting a jumper with 14:30 left and then a three-pointer with 13:57 left in the contest to make the score 41-38. Starzynski would not stop there during the stretch grabbing a rebound off a missed trey by Lauren Thomas-Johnson and taking it the length of the floor to hit a lay up making the score 41-40 with 13:35 left. Jasmyne Wynn would then hit field goals on three of the next five possessions to cut the 50-46 on a jumper from 15-feet out with 8:11 left in the game while getting fouled. Wynne would miss the field goal. Marquette would seemingly open the game up with a 9-3 run over nearly the next five minutes to take its biggest lead of the game to that point, 59-49, with 4:01 left in the contest on a lay up by Tatiyana McMorris. The Bulls Following a time out, with 3:21 left in the game, Denson would convert a three-point play getting a put pack while getting fouled and hitting the free throw to make the score 59-52. USF would make one last surge when Starzynski would convert on a lay up off a steal to make the score 59-54 with 2:56 left, however the Bulls would not get any closer.

The Golden Eagles, however, would go 5-6 from the free throw line, including 4-4 in the final 35 seconds to ice the win. Starzynski would finish with 17 points while Jasmine Wynne had 11 points in the loss. Lawson grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds on the night. Angel Robinson scored a game-high 23 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds for Marquette. The two schools will meet one more time this season when Marquette head to Tampa for a match up on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. The Bulls will return home on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. for their home BIG EAST opener when No. 1/1 Connecticut visits the Sun Dome. As always stay tuned and we'll keep you updated. Go Bulls!