CANCUN, Mexico – After a nine-day layoff the University of South Florida women’s basketball team got back to work tonight in the first day at the Caribbean Challenge at the Moon Palace Resort.
USF extended its winning streak to six games with a 68-58 win over Oregon. Shantia Grace led three players in double figures scoring a game-high 26 points in the win. Jessica Lawson and Gianna Messina added 12 and 11 points respectively for the Bulls.
USF (8-2) jumped out to a 5-0 lead and then a 9-2 edge when ChiChi Okpaleke hit a jumper with 15:46 left in the first half. Oregon, however, would come back and cut the lead to three points, 18-15, on a field goal by Victoria Kenyon 8:42 left in the half.
Grace, however, capped off an 18-6 run with a three-pointer – and her 10th point of the half – with 1:49 left in the half to give the Bulls their biggest lead of the first stanza, 31-21.
USF who found themselves in foul trouble the entire first half – with Okpaleke, Lawson and Brittany Denson all with three fouls before the break – would take a 32-23 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
USF came out of the locker room and immediately scored the first four points of the second half to take an 11-point lead, 36-23, on a jumper by Porche Grant just over a minute into the half.
Oregon would cut the lead to three points (39-36) with 13:21 left and four points (50-46) with 5:13 left but could not get any closer.
On the night, the Bulls shot 40.7 percent (24-59) from the field and forced the Ducks into 16 turnovers. USF, however, was beaten on the boards 44-38 including 20-12 on the offensive glass.
The Bulls will be back in action tomorrow night, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. (ET) when they face Belmont. The game will be carried live in the Tampa Bay area on 1010 Sports with Garrett Walvoord handling the play-by-play. Fans can also access the game via the internet by logging onto www.GoUSFBulls.com and choosing the PressPass option.