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!