By Tom Zebold
TAMPA – The Bulls gave the No. 15 Hoyas a run for their money Saturday night.
The USF women’s basketball team cut Georgetown’s lead to one with 3:39 remaining, but its comeback fell short in a 66-56 loss before a crowd of 743 at the USF Recreation Center.
“We’re a great team, we just have to do the little things to win,” said Inga Orekhova, who led USF with 18 points.
Saturday’s game marked Orekhova’s USF debut and the junior certainly didn’t disappoint after having to miss the Bulls’ first 15 games because of transfer rules. All six of her field goals came from 3-point range, including USF’s first bucket of the contest.
“I was counting down every single game,” Orekhova said. “It felt good getting back.”
Senior Jasmine Wynne added 17 points to extend her double-digit scoring streak to 12 games as USF (9-7) fell to 1-1 in Big East play.
A 24-9 run in the final 14 minutes of the first half helped Georgetown head into the break with a 32-23 lead.
The Bulls started off hot, leading the Hoyas, 14-8, behind two 3-pointers from Orekhova, who ended up making 38 percent of her shots from behind the arc.
“We struggled to score in nonconference play. She definitely helps us in that department,” USF head coach Jose Fernandez said.
Georgetown star Sugar Rodgers struggled in the game's opening period, going 1-for-11 from the field with five points. The junior came into the contest averaging 21 points and ended up with 12 (4-for-19).
“I thought we did a good job of finding her in transition,” Fernandez said.
USF spent the second half clawing back and got to within 53-52 on a 3-pointer by Andrell Smith with 4:18 remaining.
Tommacina McBride answered with a 3-pointer for the Hoyas (13-3, 1-1). The Bulls got back within one on Wynne’s second made free throw with 3:39 remaining, but Rodgers followed with a layup and Georgetown’s lead never got below three for the rest of the game.
A huge key to the contest was the Hoyas’ ability to rule the paint, outscoring the Bulls, 32-16, in the area. Georgetown also outrebounded USF, 50-37.
“In this league we have to rebound better. We need to push back,” Fernandez said. “Georgetown in the paint was so much more physical than us.”
USF was able to keep things close in the second half by being more efficient on offense. The Bulls committed four turnovers after the break – nine fewer than in the first half.
“I thought we did a much better job of taking care of the ball in the second half,” Fernandez said.
The Bulls look to get back on track in the Big East 7 p.m. Wednesday at Louisville before heading to New Jersey to face Seton Hall on Saturday, Jan. 14. USF’s next home game is Jan. 17 against DePaul back at the USF Recreation Center.
- Inga Orekhova made her USF debut and first career start for the Bulls.
- Orekhova also made her first shot and led the Bulls in scoring with 18 points, all from 3-point range. Her six threes were the most by any USF player in a game this season.
- Jasmine Wynne scored in double figures for the 12th straight game for the Bulls, registering 17 points.
- USF held Georgetown star Sugar Rodgers to just 5 points on 1-11 shooting in the first half and 4-19 shooting in the game.
- USF held the Hoyas to just 35.4 percent shooting in the game.
- USF was outrebounded 50-37 in the game and was only able to force 13 turnovers, well behind their season average of 24.