TAMPA – Before Texas’ tardy arrival Friday to the Yuengling Center for a matchup with USF, its bus driver mistakenly drove the Longhorns through afternoon gridlock downtown to Amalie Arena.
Then the Bulls diverted them again, possibly right outside the top 25.
USF (2-0) limited the No. 15 Longhorns to one field goal in the final 4:17 and went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line in the last 22 seconds to secure a 64-57 upset before an announced crowd of 2,289.
The triumph was the Bulls’ first against a top-15 foe since a 19-point rout of No. 13 Ohio State on Feb. 11, 2018.
“Our guys are not going to be scared of anybody,” Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said.
"We’ve played Connecticut two or three times a year for the last 15, 16 years, so that’s not gonna phase ‘em. Our guys are always gonna be ready to play. I think our guys accepted the challenge early on how we defended.”
Trailing most of the game, Texas (0-1) went on a 9-2 run in the fourth quarter, taking a 52-49 lead on senior Lashann Higgs’ 3-pointer with 5:45 to go. But USF closed the game with a 15-5 run, forcing three turnovers and blocking two shots down the stretch.
“I was proud of our group, when Texas went on that run and took the lead, how our kids responded, and we answered it,” Fernandez said. “And that’s what you need to do at home, protecting your home floor.”
On a night when they struggled mightily from 3-point range (5-for-21), the Bulls leaned on their depth, getting critical contributions from several players.
Six-foot junior college transfer Bethy Mununga (12 points, eight rebounds) scored six consecutive points while the teams were trading leads midway through the fourth, and had two blocks down the stretch. Junior wing Enna Pehadzic (team-high 16 points) hit a 3-pointer with 3:54 remaining that gave USF a 56-54 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Sophomore guard Elisa Pinzan (nine points, five assists), hit four consecutive free throws in that final 22-second stretch to help seal things.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what to say,” Mununga said. “I was just trying to win for the team. We were ready. We really wanted this win.”
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