For as good as the #17 USF Bulls are, the Gulf Coast Showcase down in Estero has proven what many of us might have thought. USF is A LOT better than the most teams in women’s college basketball, but still a tick away from taking that next step and knocking off the likes of Notre Dame, South Carolina, (gulp) UConn and the rest of women’s college basketball elite-tier teams.
Of course, it’s still early and the Bulls (5-1) certainly have the talent to finally get over that proverbial hump.
Junior guard Kitija Laksa put forth one of the best shooting performances of her USF career in a 76-66 loss to #6 Notre Dame on Saturday night in the semifinal round at Germain Arena. Laksa finished with 36 points on just 20 shots, including 9-for-11 from three-point range.
However, Notre Dame controlled the game. They never trailed and led by 13 at halftime. The Irish kept a double-digit lead until the very end and outrebounded USF by an alarming margin, 42-25. It was just the second time this season the Bulls were outrebounded.
USF shot 46% from the floor. Sophomore Tamara Henshaw was second in scoring with nine points and three rebounds. Senior wing Laura Ferreira was ice cold to begin the game and finished with only eight points.
The Bulls actually outscored the Irish 24-18 in the final quarter, but the rally was too late to take down a perennial Final Four team in Notre Dame.
USF will finish play at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Sunday afternoon with a consolation game against St. John’s.