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Big Night Propels Bulls to WNIT Quarterfinal

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    DATE: Mar. 27, 2014

    Big Night Propels Bulls to WNIT Quarterfinal

    RECAP: Four players finished in double figures as USF rolled past George Washington in the third round of the WNIT at the Sun Dome on Thursday night.

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    USF Senior Writer

    TAMPA, MARCH 27, 2014 – USF keeps getting stronger as its WNIT run gets longer and Thursday's performance got the Bulls within three victories of finishing the season in stride.

    USF became one of the final eight left standing in the tournament by rolling past George Washington, 74-59, in third round action before a crowd of 1,231 at the Sun Dome. The Bulls are trying to become the first team in WNIT history to win it all twice and their next opponent will be determined later Thursday night.

    "I think this team has continued to get better as the season has gone on," head coach Jose Fernandez said after his Bulls improved to 22-12. "These guys have bought in and when you have that buy-in it's fun."

    Courtney Williams posted her 10th double-double of the season with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and the sophomore guard got plenty of help in the Bulls' ninth victory in their past 10 games.

    Sophomore Alisia Jenkins registered her 14th double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Inga Orekhova scored all of her 14 points in the second half and tied career highs with nine rebounds and seven assists. Senior center Akila McDonald had another solid game with 11 points and six rebounds.

    "We are just trying to prove everybody wrong that we were supposed to be in the NCAA tournament, so every game that we play we have the killer mentality," Orekhova said. "We're going to run over them and we're going to prove everybody wrong."

    Williams got into double figures for the 27th time this season with 16 points to help the Bulls roll cruise into halftime with a 35-19 lead.

    The lead changed hands five times before the Bulls' offense caught fire in the final 8 minutes of the opening period. Shavontae Naylor made two straight layups to give USF a 19-16 advantage and the Bulls seized control of the game by continuing on an 18-3 run into the break.

    "I think we realized if we don't do this then we're going to give them a chance to get momentum and then they're going to feel like they're going to have a chance," Williams said. "We had to kind of stop that, so we had to go on runs."

    McDonald's buzzer-beater before the half spotted USF an 18-6 edge in points in the paint and the Bulls scored 13 points off 12 George Washington turnovers in the opening period. The Colonials averaged 81 points in their first two WNIT games but couldn't get into a groove while starting 7-for-33 from the field.

    USF led by 17 nearly 5 minutes into the second half and had to withstand a late charge by the Colonials before pulling away in the final 3 minutes. Ciara Washington's free throw cut GW's deficit to 62-55 with 4:06 to play but that's as close as the Colonials got the rest of the way as Orekhova scored seven points down the stretch in her 18th game in double figures this season.

    Orekhova now ranks 15th in USF history with 1,047 points, while Williams became just the third player in program history to score more than 550 points in a season.

    Washington finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds, Megan Nipe scored 16 points and Jonquel Jones added 15 points for the Colonials (23-11).


    - Orekhova passed Andrea Smith for 15th in USF career points, and she now has 1,047.

    - Jenkins passed Sonya Swick for 15th in USF career rebounds. She now has 546 (347 this season).

    - McDonald finished the evening one block shy of third in USF single-season blocks with 63 this season. McDonald also is one block shy of USF's all-time postseason blocks record set by Brittany Denson with 13.

    - Orekhova's seven assists moved her up three spots to 16th on USF's career assists list. She has 193.

    - #GoBulls -

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