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 ESPN.com'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.