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March 4, 2013

USF clinches first round bye in Big East

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The USF Bulls (20-9, 9-7) cruised to a win on the road at Georgetown tonight, routing the Hoyas by the score of 63-35 in USF's final game of the regular season.

In what Head Coach Jose Fernandez called a "must win game", USF played solid basketball from start to finish. A sense of desperation certainly surrounding this Bulls squad, as they seemingly knew that this contest could make-or-break the team's NCAA Tournament hopes.

Inga Orekhova started off the game right for the Bulls, sinking one of her signature 3-pointers nearly 20 seconds into the game. USF would jump out to an early 9-0 lead, which would slowly build into 24-8 lead by halftime. Sugar Rodgers, the Hoyas' perpetual standout player, scored five out of the eight points Georgetown had during the first half.

The second half would be no different, and the Bulls would get the offensive production that they had sought during the previous two contests. Starters Andrell Smith and Andrea Smith had 16 and 11 points respectively, and both players were just one rebound away from having a double-double.

However, it was Courtney Williams, who came off the bench, that would score the most points against the Hoyas. Second only to Akila McDonald in minutes played with 26, Williams had 18 points and six rebounds on the game.

Despite Georgetown's loss, Sugar Rodgers may have been the story of the game. The senior guard played all 40 minutes for the Hoyas, and scored 20 of her squad's 35 total points.

USF was unable to shut Rodgers down despite her being the player to watch coming into this game, but the lack of offense from her teammates (Dominique Vitalis was the second-highest scorer for the Hoyas with 5 points) aided in the Bulls' victory.

The Bulls' shooting was still less than stellar, but certainly an improvement from their previous two outings. USF shot 30.8 percent from the field; Georgetown shot just 17.3 percent. Sugar Rodgers was the only player for the Hoyas that made more than one basket during the game.

USF will now head to Hartford, Conn., to participate in the Big East Championship that begins this Friday. The Bulls have clinched a first-round bye, and as the sixth seed in the Big East they will play their first match at 8 p.m. on Saturday. USF will take on the winner of the Georgetown/Providence game.



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