Women’s basketball falls in opener to USF, 82-77
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USF used a strong second half and fought off a late rally to down the JU women’s basketball, 82-77, on Friday night in Tampa, Fla.

Andrea Smith scored 18 of her 21 points in the second half to pace the Bulls (1-0), who shot 51.4 percent (19-37) from the floor in the frame. They also finished shooting 55.9 percent from the charity stripe.

“I was pleased with our effort tonight,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “We played well in the first half and finished with five players in double figures. We made several key mistakes in the second half, but I know we can fix them in practice next week before FAU.”

The Dolphins (0-1), who led for the entire first half, had all five starters hit double figures –led by junior Crystal Bell’s 21-point effort. JU would be done in by a game-high 26 turnovers and 12 missed free throws in the second half.

Trailing 67-52 in the second half, the Dolphins chipped away at the lead with free throws and two fast break layups by Bell cut the deficit to seven at 71-64 (4:35).

JU fell behind by 11 again before a three pointer by sophomore Maggie Wilson along with free throws from senior GiGi Thomas and Lynsey Paschal made it to 78-72 with less a minute left. Bell hit two layups in the final seconds to cut the deficit to four twice, but USF held on for the win.

The Bulls also had Kaneisha Saunders hit double figures with 18 points, while fellow post player Dalesiha Carn added 16 points and five boards.

In the first half, the Dolphins built an early 14-5 lead capped by consecutive free throws from junior Ashanti Williams (15:31). USF took advantage of a four-minute scoring drought to cut the deficit to six before a jumper by Paschal at 11:43 gave JU a 28-17 advantage. Thomas put JU up by 11 points (28-17, 5:11) with consecutive free throws, but USF used a 14-6 run capped by a Carn layup in the final minute of the half to make a 34-31 deficit. Bell hit a fast break up in the layup to quash the run and give JU a 36-31 lead at half.

Thomas, junior Jessica George and senior Taneskei Richardson each finished with 11 points for JU, while Paschal scored 10 points and recorded a game-best 12 rebounds.

The Dolphins hit the court again on Nov. 17 when they host former A-Sun rival Florida Atlantic in the home opener at Swisher Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.