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!