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!