TAMPA – USF Women’s Basketball stayed undefeated on the young season, as Andrea Smith’s game-high 24 points helped lead the Bulls past the Bradley Braves 60-50 on Tuesday night at the Sundome.
A late 10-3 run powered by a pair of Smith three-pointers allowed USF to pull away.
“Those last three-four minutes, you’ve got to get your best player the basketball,” head coach Jose Fernandez said.
The Bulls (3-0) pushed the ball to Smith repeatedly as time winded down, and the red-shirt senior responded. Smith was responsible for 13 of the Bulls’ final 16 points.
USF held a steady lead through the first 19 minutes of play. With under a minute to go before the half, a Shronda Butts layup gave Bradley its first lead, 22-21. The Bulls quickly got the ball to Inga Orekhova, and the junior guard drilled a three-pointer from the left wing with 35 seconds on the clock to put the Bulls back out in front.
The Bulls struggled with turnovers throughout, committing 11 in the first half and 20 overall. 14 of the Braves' 22 points before the break resulted from USF turnovers.
Up 32-31 with just over 10 minutes remaining, USF utilized an 8-2 run to gain some breathing room, but Bradley (2-2) answered with a Jenny Smith three-pointer and a Catie O’Leary layup to make it a two-point game.
With the Bulls leading 42-40 with 5:02 on the clock, Smith took over. USF posted nine straight unanswered points – eight of which were courtesy of Andrea Smith.
USF was out-rebounded 47-43 on the evening, but aggressive defensive play throughout helped keep the Braves to just 28.2% from the floor. The Bulls also blocked 12 shots, four each by Akila McDonald and Orekhova.
The Bulls managed to hold O’Leary, who had averaged 14 points per game through Bradley’s three prior games, to just five points on 1-of-9 from the floor.
The Braves did have three players in double figures, as Shronda Butts led the way with 13 while Kelsey Budd and Jenny Smith each notched 11.
USF will return to the Sundome on Friday, as they host North Dakota at 7 p.m.