Wichita State erased a nine-point halftime deficit, but went cold in the final quarter to let USF hang on for the hard-fought win, 55-46, Saturday night at the Yuengling Center.
Wichita State (11-15, 4-9) managed only five points in the fourth quarter, missing 15 of its 17 field goal attempts. The Shockers finished the game shooting 32 percent overall, including a 6-of-16 mark from beyond the arc.
USF converted on only 2-of-18 from three-point range and shot only 26 percent overall, but outrebounded the Shockers 51-35, including 22 offensive rebounds. The Bulls also made the most of their free throws, going 23-of-29 to make up for a poor shooting night.
Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage registered her fourth straight game in double-figures with 11 points and 12th of the season, tying for the team lead. She was the lone Shocker in double-figures thanks to a perfect 3-for-3 shooting night from long range.
Shae Leverett led three Bulls in double-figures with 20 points and 18 rebounds.
Lozada-Cabbage tallied five of Wichita State’s first seven points in helping the Shockers get out to a 7-3 lead, while the defense forced USF into a 1-for-12 start from the field.
The Shockers would then go the final 6:05 without a score to let USF finish the quarter on an 8-0 run to take an 11-7 lead into the second. After missing its final 10 attempts, Wichita State finished the period shooting 21 percent from the floor.
Asia Henderson finally snapped the cold spell at the 8:21 mark of the second quarter with a post move and score to cut the deficit to six, 15-9. Despite shooting less than 25 percent with 7:01 remaining in the half, USF built a 17-9 lead behind a plus-13 rebound advantage, including 12 offensive rebounds.
After the Bulls extended their lead to 10, WSU answered with five straight on a Carla Bremaud floater and Lozada-Cabbage trey from the top of the key. USF almost immediately responded with five of its own to go back up 28-18 and play nearing the 3:00 minute mark.
USF would lead by as many as 12 in the final minute before a Maya Brewer corner three cut it to single digits, 34-25, at the break.
Wichita State finished the half shooting better from the field compared to USF, 36 percent to 27 percent, but the Bulls dominated the glass, 28-13. Fifteen of USF’s 28 rebounds came on the offensive end leading to 11 second chance points. The Bulls also did most of their scoring damage at the free throw line, hitting 16-of-18 attempts.
Lozada-Cabbage led the Shockers with eight first half points, while Shae Leverett totaled a game-high 15 points to lead the Bulls.
A 10-3 run to begin the third quarter brought WSU within a bucket, 37-35, at the midway point to force a USF timeout. Four points from Seraphine Bastin sandwiched around a three-pointer each from Bremaud and Lozada-Cabbage spurred the hot start.
WSU held USF to just 3-of-17 shooting for the period to come all the way back to tie it up at 41 as play shifted to the final frame. The Shockers erased a nine-point halftime deficit, outscoring the Bulls in the third quarter, 16-7.
The two teams traded baskets over the first 5:00 minutes with USF taking a 46-43 lead into the media timeout.
A USF timeout with 1:33 remaining had the Bulls leading 48-46, but Enna Pehadzic knocked down a long jumper to push USF’s lead back to four and only 1:09 on the clock. An empty possession for WSU followed by Bastin’s fifth foul sent the Bulls to free throw line. USF hit 1-of-2 free throws to lead 51-46 and 42.9 seconds to go.
WSU would turn it over on the ensuing possession and USF would seal the victory at the free throw line in the final seconds.
The Shockers return home to welcome the third-ranked UConn Huskies to Charles Koch Arena for the program’s first visit to Wichita. WSU then travels to Philadelphia for its final regular season road game to face Temple on Saturday, March 2.