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South Florida Bulls women's basketball team nearly blows big lead before beating Cincinnati

TAMPA — USF saw a 23-point first-half lead on Cincinnati cut to two points with two minutes left, 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 Big East win Saturday at the Sun Dome.

"We shot 60 percent in the second half. We just didn't guard anybody," Bulls 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 others scoring in double digits. Senior point guard Jazmine Sepulveda had 14 points and a career-best 13 assists, most ever for USF in a Big East game. Sepulveda played 36 minutes without a turnover.

Cincinnati (13-15, 3-12) has lost 11 straight. USF improved to 20-9 overall, 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.

TAMPA 64, LYNN 44: Gianna Messina had 30 points and 12 rebounds as the visiting Spartans (22-5, 12-4) clinched a share of the Sunshine State Conference regular-season championship with Rollins.

ROLLINS 71, ECKERD 62: The visiting Tars earned a share of the SSC regular-season title by beating the Tritons (16-11, 9-7).

SAINT LEO 75, P.B. ATLANTIC 68: Nichole Tyler had 16 points in a season-ending win for the host Lions (11-16).

Top 25

NO. 1 UCONN 81, SETON HALL 50: Maya Moore scored 18 to help the host Huskies (29-0, 15-0) clinch the Big East's regular-season title.

NO. 2 OKLA. 73, OKLA. ST. 63: Courtney Paris had 25 points and 16 rebounds for her 122nd double double as the host Sooners (25-3, 13-1) clinched a share of the Big 12 title.

NO. 6 BAYLOR 66, NO. 16 TEXAS 57: Jhasmin Player had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the visiting Bears (23-4, 11-3 Big 12) snapped a three-game skid. But Baylor leading scorer and rebounder Danielle Wilson was carried off with a possible torn anterior cruciate ligament late in the first half.

NO. 8 LOUISVILLE 75, NO. 15 PITT 51: Candyce Bingham scored a career-high 26 as the host Cardinals (26-3, 13-2) clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament this week. The Panthers (21-6, 11-4) also will have a bye to the quarterfinals.

NO. 13 XAVIER 75, FORDHAM 47: Ta'Shia Phillips had 22 points and 18 rebounds, and the host Musketeers (25-5, 13-1) clinched their second Atlantic 10 regular-season championship.

NO. 21 SOUTH DAKOTA ST. 97, CENTENARY 52: The visiting Jackrabbits (27-2, 16-1) clinched at least a share of their second straight Summit League championship.

NO. 23 NOTRE DAME 65, PROVIDENCE 56: Lindsay Schrader scored 18, including the 1,000th of her career, and Ashley Barlow hit two key 3-pointers in the second half to spark a rally for the visiting Irish (20-7, 9-6 Big East).

NO. 24 ARIZ. ST. 76, WASH. ST. 35: The host Sun Devils (22-6, 14-2 Pac-10) won their 14th straight, extending their school record.

NO. 25 IOWA ST. 59, TEXAS TECH 52: Amanda Nisleit scored a career-high 19 and Heather Ezell had 16, including three 3-pointers, for the visiting Cyclones (21-7, 9-5 Big 12).

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

South Florida Bulls women's basketball team nearly blows big lead before beating Cincinnati 02/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 11:44pm]

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