USF continued its late-February hot streak on Wednesday, downimg Houston 59-49 to claim their fourth consecutive victory.
The Bulls (16-12, 7-7 AAC) traveled with only seven players including Sydni Harvey, who is coming off of concussion protocol and played for only three minutes.
Despite this, USF used an extremely hot start to pad a solid 22-10 lead over the Cougars (15-12, 9-5) after the first quarter and did most of their damage inside. Sophomore Shae Leverett continued her dominance On the glass by collecting 15 rebounds on the night and getting nine points, all of them coming within the paint.
Junior Tamara Henshaw was also a huge threat inside, collecting eight rebounds and eight points, while also contesting shots all night.
Sophomore Enna Pehadzic and freshman Elisa Pinzan lead USF in scoring with 12 points a piece tonight. Pinzan is still struggling to find her groove however, ending the night with seven turnovers, nearly half of the total turnovers USF had tonight.
USF’s fast start started to falter as the game went on and the fatigue started to set in. The Bulls outscored the Cougars in the first half 38-15. However, Houston’s duo of Octavia Barnes (12 points) and Angela Harris (17 points) sparked a second half rally, where the Cougars outscored USF 34-21.
The Bulls were ice cold in the fourth quarter, while Houston starting heating up, shooting close to 50% in the final quarter.
However, their comeback came up short, as USF was able to pull away with strong defensive rebounding to close out the game 59-49.
As mentioned, Sydni Harvey is still coming off concussion protocol, and tonight, the minutes distribution showed how hesitant Coach Fernandez was to put the freshmen into the game.
Harvey played only three minutes, coming in with 1:13 left in the first half, and the last 2:00 of the game. The minutes distribution outside of that is as followed: Pehadzic, Septe, Pinzan all played 39 minutes. Henshaw played 36 minutes, Leverett played 25 minutes, and Rader played 19.
With only two games remaining before the American Tournament, USF will look to keep their players as fresh as possible. USF will travel to Cincinnati on Saturday before one last showdown with UConn at the end of the season next Monday, freshmen and bench players will continue to get significant minutes to close out the season.