TAMPA — USF's women's team embarked on the 2013-14 season Friday hoping to make history but soon found itself struggling to make a jumper.
Abysmal from the floor (16-for-61) in the first 29 minutes, the Bulls rallied but failed to overtake No. 8 Maryland in a 78-70 season-opening loss before 1,953 at the Sun Dome.
Seeking its first victory over a top-10 program, the Bulls let Maryland end the first half on a 15-2 run for a 43-28 lead at intermission. The entire spurt came with reigning ACC player of the year Alyssa Thomas on the bench in foul trouble.
"That was just demoralizing," Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said.
Thomas finished with as many points (four) as fouls, but Maryland got 64 points from its bench. USF, meantime, put four players in double figures but top returning scorer Inga Orekhova (two points) shot 0-for-11.
Down by 16 in the second half, the Bulls cut their deficit to 72-66 with 2:41 to play, but Maryland went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line late. USF missed its last four field goals and shot 31.6 percent for the game (25-for-79).