The USF women's basketball team, in need of a major win down the stretch of the regular season, came away with one of the program's biggest wins last night, beating 12th ranked Louisville on the road, 73 to 62. The Bulls, 18-7 (7-5), led by just two points at the half, but were led by Andrea Smith's huge night and shutdown Schoni Schimmel and the Cardinals offense.
Andrea Smith tied a career high with 35 points and added 5 rebounds. For the last two games, Andrea has struggled from the floor, but against the Cardinals, she took control and put the team on her back. Inga Orekhova had 13 points and 7 rebounds. Alisia Jenkins had 8 points and 2 rebounds, Akila McDonald had 10 rebounds (clearing out the paint well), and Caitlin Rowe added 5 points and 7 rebounds as well. After scoring just two points against Seton Hall last time out, Andrea was due for a huge game and she picked the best timing for it.
It wasn't just the offense and Andrea that won the game, it was the Bulls defense that also contributed to the huge win. USF out-rebounded the Cardinals 43 to 34. They also held them to just 30% shooting from the floor and 20% from 3-point range. Schoni Schimmel, who torched the USF defense for 38 points last time in Tampa, was held to just 16 points on 6 of 20 shooting.
This was a huge win for Coach Fernandez and the ladies. After they beat Seton Hall last week, their RPI went from 58 to 71, making their tournament hopes a bit dim. However, a win like this will only boost their rating and gives them a signature win as the season slowly comes to an end. The Bulls now face a new challenge as they return home to face Syracuse. The Orange are 22-3 (10-2) on the season and will be another giant the Bulls must face if they want to make it to the NCAA tournament. The Bulls take on Syracuse this Saturday at 2 PM.