USF women rally past Villanova, 61-51
Down 12 points to the only winless team in the Big East with 12:30 remaining, USF ended the game on a 28-6 run, getting clutch baskets from junior guard Leondra Doomes-Stephens in a 61-51 win against Villanova on Tuesday night in the Sun Dome.
The Bulls (13-8, 4-4) have won four of five games after opening Big East play 0-3. USF got 14 points from senior guard Janae Stokes and 13 from freshman guard KaNeisha Saunders. Doomes-Stephens put USF ahead for good with a layup with 3:29 left, and she added the next four points, finishing with 10. Villanova (11-10, 0-8) led most of the game before collapsing down the stretch.
"We're in sixth place. We're tied for sixth with eight games to go," said coach Jose Fernandez said. "You're looking at four new starters out on the floor from last year. We're 13-8 ... With everything that's happened, these next eight are big. If you can go at least .500 in these next eight, 8-8 or 9-7 in this league, I think you're an NCAA worthy type of team. We still have a lot of basketball to play."
USF ended the game on a 14-0 run, as Villanova missed its last seven shots, with three turnovers in the last three minutes. The Bulls have Rutgers at home on Saturday before going on a three-game road trip -- at Marquette, Seton Hall, Georgetown.
CollegeRPI.com's projected NCAA field has seven Big East teams, with Marquette as "close," but USF isn't in that conversation yet. ESPN.com's "Bracketology" projections have seven Big East teams in, with Marquette among the "first four out" and Syracuse among the "next four out."
The Bulls, ranked 66th in CollegeRPI.com's ratings, are 0-7 against RPI top 80 teams -- Villanova (102) is actually USF's third-best win, behind Pittsburgh (88) and Syracuse (95). Of the Bulls' eight remaining games, seven are against RPI top-80 teams.