Rattlers get OT upset over USF women
TAMPA -- With head coach Jose Fernandez away from the team since Monday and hospitalized with abdominal pains, USF couldn't put away a pesky Florida A&M team and the Rattlers pulled off a 73-68 upset in overtime in the opener for both teams.
USF led 60-56 with 30 seconds left in regulation, but two missed free throws opened the door for FAMU to tie the game on a 3-pointer by Deidra Jones with seven seconds left. The Bulls led 68-67 in overtime with 1:13 to play, but senior Jessica Lawson missed two shots and Florida A&M scored the game's final six points. LaShonda Gaines went 4-for-4 at the line in the final 29 seconds.
"I don't think we can use Coach not being here as a crutch," said associate head coach Jeff Osterman, who is stepping in as interim coach. "It's their coach and my friend besides a co-worker, so of course your thoughts go there. ... I think it's some new kids that have to learn the name on the jersey and the Big East patch, people are going to come and attack us. We have to get better from this."
Lawson and Melissa Dalembert each had double-doubles, with Lawson getting 14 points and a career-high 17 boards, and Dalembert getting 16 points and 11 rebounds. The two missed easy shots inside, however, going a combined 13-for-35 in the post, and the Bulls finished with 27 turnovers, three more than FAMU.
Newcomers played key roles for the Bulls -- freshman KaNeisha Saunders had 14 points and four assists, and junior Leondra Doomes-Stephens had six steals and six points.
USF had won the only two meetings between the schools in the past decade, but FAMU holds an 11-5 edge in the all-time series. The Bulls return to the Sun Dome on Monday against St. Peter's as part of a doubleheader with the men's team; it's unknown whether Fernandez will return to the team before that game.