Couch-side analysis: USF 48, Colorado State 45
If any game in the last four years serves as a primer on Courtney Williams' value to USF women's basketball, it's Saturday night's 48-45 triumph against Colorado State.
Benched the first five minutes (and change) for what officially was called a "coach's decision," Williams finished with 31 points, breaking her own school single-game record for an NCAA Tournament game. While Williams observed at the game's outset, the 11th-seeded Rams took a 10-1 lead.
Over the next 2 1/2 quarters, Williams single-handedly outscored CSU, 25-22.
Yet for all the sleekness, proficiency and raw passion Williams brandished during her one-woman clinic, the Bulls will need more of an ensemble effort in Monday night's second round against third-seeded UCLA.
"We've got to score," associate head coach Jeff Osterman said on the Bulls' radio broadcast immediately after the game. "It can't be Courtney Williams with 31 and the rest of us kind of clapping."
USF's 48 points were a season low. Subtract Williams' line (12-for-29), and the Bulls were a dreadful 6-for-31 (19.4 percent) from the floor. Top 3-point shooter Kitija Laksa and No. 3 scorer Laura Ferreira combined for 10 shot attempts, with Ferreira (one point), finishing 0-for-7 from the floor.
Moreover, the Bulls' eight assists were two off their season low. With two seconds to play, they had a chance to ice the game with a simple inbounds pass under the basket, but threw it away, giving the Rams a final heave at the buzzer that just missed.
"We're lucky to get out of here. We've had 48 at halftime (before)," said Osterman, whose club nonetheless snapped a 22-game skid against ranked teams. "We came out a little bit tight and missed some stuff, and luckily (Williams) carried us a little bit.
"We used our luck card up tonight and we've got to play a lot better against UCLA."