Upset slips away as USF women fall to No. 12 Cards
TAMPA -- Up nine points on No. 12 Louisville with 12 minutes to play, USF's women's basketball hit a major scoring drought -- four points in the next 11 minutes -- and a furious comeback in the final 35 seconds fell short as the Cardinals escaped with a 78-75 victory Wednesday in the Sun Dome.
Down 74-68 with 35 seconds left, the Bulls nearly pulled off the comeback -- Andrea Smith got a basket, and Andrell Smith banked in a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to cut the lead to one. Twice the Bulls had a chance to tie with a three -- USF settled for a two from Akila McDonald with 7.5 seconds left, and after two Louisville free throws, Andrell Smith's 3-pointer at the buzzer missed.
"That's definitely a tough, heartbreaking loss," said coach Jose Fernandez, whose team nearly beat No. 2 Notre Dame, losing in overtime, and lost in the final second at Villanova. "It's tough going into that locker room. ... I thought this game was going to come down to who's going to value the ball, who's going to make the most out of possessions. We lost that turnover battle."
Louisville (18-4, 6-2 in Big East) got a career night from guard Shoni Schimmel, who scored 38 points on 12-for-20 shooting, with eight 3-pointers. She had a personal 9-0 run to tie the game after USF led 62-53. USF (14-6, 3-4) responded with four quick points and still led with four minutes to play, but Schimmel hit another three and the Cardinals wouldn't trail again.
Andrell Smith finished with 18 points and a career-high 11 assists, but said the Bulls' late-game lapse was a result of poor communication, leading to five turnovers and five missed shots during a 10-0 Louisville run.
"It is frustrating for us ... we have good teams coming in and we're right there and just can't close it out," Andrell said. "I know in that 12-minute stretch, I don't remember us communicating very well at all. I think we didn't communicate and we just went braindead, as a team. You just can't have that."