USF women hold on, edge Cincinnati, 84-78
TAMPA -- USF saw a 25-point first-half lead on Cincinnati cut to two points with two minutes to play, but the veterans saved the Bulls on Senior Day, with key baskets from Brittany Denson and Jessica Lawson helping USF hold on for an 84-78 win in the Sun Dome.
"We shot 60 percent in the second half. We just didn't guard anybody," coach Jose Fernandez said. "You get a big lead and you quit defending, and you can't do that against any team in this league."
Lawson and fellow senior Shantia Grace led the Bulls with 19 points, with three other teammates scoring in double digits. Senior point guard Jazmine Sepulveda had 14 points and a career-best 13 assists, the most ever for USF in a Big East game. Sepulveda also played 36 minutes without a turnover.
Cincinnati (13-15, 3-12) has now lost 11 straight. The win improves USF to 20-9 overall and 7-8 in the BIg East, with a crucial game Monday night at Villanova as the Bulls continue to improve their position on the NCAA bubble.
"The magic number has been 22 (wins) all along," said Fernandez, whose team also has the Big East tournament, which starts Friday.
-- I can offer a men's basketball update as well -- senior guard Jesus Verdejo, who has been limited by an injured right foot, is watching the game but is on crutches. Officially, he's listed as "doubtful" for Sunday's game against West Virginia, but Bulls coach Stan Heath said it would be "wishful thinking" to believe he could play against the Mountaineers. Heath is optimistic that if Verdejo can respond well to treatments, he could at least play in the regular-season finale at Rutgers and/or in the Big East tournament.