South Florida Bulls women's basketball team ends regular season with big win at Villanova

UNBLEMISHED: Renee Montgomery, running into Rutgers’ Nikki Speed, had 23 points to help UConn improve to 30-0.

Associated Press

UNBLEMISHED: Renee Montgomery, running into Rutgers’ Nikki Speed, had 23 points to help UConn improve to 30-0.

VILLANOVA, PA. — Jazmine Sepulvada stole the ball with 10 seconds left and drove the length of the court for the winning basket as USF stunned Villanova 52-50 on Monday, keeping its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

Jessica Lawson had 15 points, Brittany Denson 11 and Shantia Grace 10 for the Bulls (21-9, 8-8 Big East), who clinched the eighth seed in the conference tournament and a first-round bye. USF plays Saturday at 2 against the winner of No. 9 Marquette and No. 16 Cincinnati.

USF won its third in a row and tied the school record for regular-season wins.

Laura Kurz had 18 points for the Wildcats (18-12, 10-6).

The Bulls trailed nearly the entire game, going ahead briefly at 36-35 when Sepulvada hit a 3-pointer with 10:51 left. A Sepulveda 3 tied it at 41 with 8:27 left before the Wildcats hit six straight free throws for a 47-41 lead with 4:10 left.

Lawson's jumper got USF within 47-43 with 3:25 left. Brittany Denson's putback tied it at 47 before Kurz hit a 3 with 58 seconds left.

On the next possession, Grace drove down the right side of the lane, hit a layup and drew a foul. Her free throw tied it at 50 with 40 seconds left.

After a Villanova timeout, Sepulveda stripped Siobahn O'Connor, leading to her winning shot.

UConn is perfect

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Unbeaten and still unimpressed. Only at Connecticut.

Even after beating Rutgers for their first undefeated regular season in six years, the top-ranked Huskies were all business and thinking about the next step: the Big East tournament.

"Being 30-0 is fantastic if you're able to finish it off down the road," coach Geno Auriemma said after the Huskies won 69-59 to cap their fifth undefeated regular season. "For better or worse, I've created an environment no matter how great we are or how wonderful we are that the real story is if we don't win the national championship."

Renee Montgomery scored 23 for UConn (30-0, 16-0 Big East), which last went unbeaten in the regular season in 2002-03. The Huskies finished that year with their second straight national championship after losing to Villanova in the Big East tournament. UConn went unbeaten in the conference for the seventh time.

NO. 7 LOUISVILLE 66, MARQUETTE 61: Angel McCoughtry had 25 points and 13 rebounds and freshman reserve Janae Howard tied her career high with 13 points as the visiting Cardinals (27-3, 14-2 Big East) overcame a turnover-plagued first half to tie their school record for wins.

NO. 14 PITT 79, ST. JOHN'S 60: Shavonte Zellous scored 18 in her final home game for the Panthers (22-6, 12-4 Big East), who led by 13 at halftime and had few problems in tying the school record for regular-season victories.

NO. 17 SOUTH DAKOTA ST. 71, ORAL ROBERTS 64: Jill Young came off the bench to score 23, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 5:12 left, and the visiting Jackrabbits (28-2, 17-1) clinched their second straight Summit League title with their 14th straight win.

NO. 20 NOTRE DAME 72, W. VA. 66: Lindsay Schrader had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the host Irish (21-7, 10-6 Big East). The Mountaineers had just seven players because starting point guard Ashley Powell was ill and three players are out for the season with injuries.

NO. 9 CAL: Guard Alexis Gray-Lawson could return to action this week after tests revealed no torn ligaments in her sprained left knee.

AP POLL: Bowling Green's 25-game winning streak lifted it into the poll at No. 25 as Kansas State fell out. Connecticut remained a unanimous No. 1 for the 14th week in a row.

Men

NO. 11 VILLANOVA 77, NOTRE DAME 60: Scottie Reynolds scored 23, and the visiting Wildcats (24-6, 12-5 Big East) had a season-low five turnovers. Villanova had a season-high 20 turnovers in a loss to Georgetown on Saturday.

USF COMMITMENT: Mike Burwell, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard at South Kent Prep in Connecticut, has committed to take a scholarship to USF after a campus visit last weekend.

"The atmosphere was great, and I felt right at home," said Burwell, who averaged 27 points as a high school senior in South Amboy, N.J., last season. "The coaches were great, the players were great, and it seems like I can make a difference there next season."

Burwell is averaging a team-best 19 points for South Kent, among the country's top prep schools. He could play shooting guard or small forward at USF and said he is fully qualified academically. He chose the Bulls over Rutgers, South Carolina, TCU, Central Florida, Fordham and San Diego.

AP POLL: Connecticut returned to No. 1 after one week out of the top spot. No. 25 Syracuse was the only newcomer, replacing Texas.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

South Florida Bulls women's basketball team ends regular season with big win at Villanova 03/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009 11:59pm]

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