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Courtesy: USF
Bulls Hang Tough With No. 2 Irish Again in Loss
Team 1st 2nd OT Final
Notre Dame
37 38
- 75
USF
31 35 - 66

 

By TOM ZEBOLD

USF Senior Writer

TAMPA - The Bulls nearly made Big East history in their final audition for the NCAA tournament Sunday afternoon in Hartford, Conn.

No-fear USF had a four-point lead with less than 11 minutes to go before No. 2 Notre Dame rallied past the Bulls, 75-66, at the XL Center.

Natalie Achonwa posted 20 points and 20 rebounds to help Notre Dame (29-1) avoid being the first top-seeded team to fall in the Big East quarterfinals since the tournament started in 1983.

The Bulls (21-10) took Notre Dame to overtime in the team's first meeting of the season and Sunday's game proved it was no fluke as USF eyes its first NCAA tournament bid since 2006.

Andrell Smith tied a career high with 27 points and hit five of USF's 10 3-pointers while passing the 1,000-point mark as a Bull. Andrea Smith scored 18 points a day after passing the 1,000-point mark and Inga Orekhova finished with 11 points.

USF started 1-for-10 from the field but still found a way to become the aggressor early on. Orekhova scored five quick points and her 3-pointer highlighted the Bulls' opening 14-10 run. The Irish started 22 percent from the field while Andrea Smith's 3-pointer spotted USF a 19-13 lead more than midway through the opening period.

Notre Dame's 11 forced turnovers paved the way for a 37-31 halftime lead but USF still found a way to grab the momentum heading into the locker room. Andrell Smith scored eight points in the final 1 minute, 15 seconds and made a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to go before the break.

The Smith twins stayed hot early in the second half to help the Bulls tied the game at 41. Andrea Smith's 3-pointer sparked a 10-run that featured seven points by Andrell Smith within the first four minutes.

USF's ninth 3-pointer of the game came from Orekhova and gave the Bulls a 51-47 lead with 11:38 remaining. Notre Dame regrouped and grabbed a 57-53 lead with 8:27 to go with Big East Player of the Year Skylar Diggins' first points of the half.

Andrell Smith's 3-pointer got USF within one with 7:33 to go but that's as close as the Bulls got the rest of the way. Diggins finished with 15 points, Jewell Loyd added 14 points and Kayla McBride scored 10 points as Notre Dame advanced to Monday's 6 p.m. semifinal matchup with Louisville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notre Dame FG-A 3FG-A FT-A  Pts. 
Natalie Achonwa
7-16
0-0
6-12
20
USF
FG-A  3FG-A  FT-A Pts. 
Andrell Smith
10-16
5-8
2-3
27
Notre Dame Off. Def. Total
Natalie Achonwa
7
13
20
USF
Off. Def. Total
Akila McDonald 2 5 7
Notre Dame Asst. Stl.  Blk.
Skylar Diggins
5
3
0
USF
Asst. Reb. Stl.
Andrell Smith
3 4 3



USF Women's Basketball




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