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.