TAMPA – The Bulls snapped a four game losing streak defeating Villanova, 54-39, on Saturday night.
Andrell Smith scored a season-high 22 points, Inga Orekhova added eight points and Tahira Johnson had seven points before a crowd of 682 at the USF Recreation Center in the Play 4 Kay Breast Cancer Awareness game.
“This win was very important for us,” Smith said. “Coach told us we needed to get this win at home and to protect home court.”
USF (13-13, 5-7) opened the game on a 10-0 run 3:37 into the first half with threes from Smith and Orekhova. Both players were hot from the three-point line shooting 3-of-5 and 2-of-5 from behind the arc in the opening period.
“I thought she (Smith) played with a lot of confidence,” said head coach Jose Fernandez. “She’s very, very talented.”
The Bulls are 7-0 all-time against the Wildcats, and Fernandez is undefeated against Villanova head coach Harry Perretta, who has 613 career wins.
The Bulls outrebounded Villanova 22-20 and forced nine turnovers in the first half to take a 28-23 lead at the half.
USF opened the second half on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 13 points, their largest lead of the night, with 13:38 remaining.
The Bulls held Villanova to 28.8 percent shooting from the field, forced 14 turnovers and won the rebounding battle by outrebounded the Wildcats 42-34.
“I thought it came down to defense tonight, I thought our kids really defended,” said head coach Jose Fernandez. “It was good to get a win at home.”
The Wildcats entered the game averaging just 11.3 turnovers a game, tops in the country, but USF forced them into 14 for the game and won the battle on the boards 42-34, improving their record to 8-1 when they grab more rebounds than their opponent.
The Bulls return to action Tuesday against Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisc.