Pinzan, No. 23 Bulls top No. 9 Ducks 71-62 at Atlantis
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Jose Fernandez got the finish he wanted from 23rd-ranked South Florida at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Kelly Graves couldn’t say the same for ninth-ranked Oregon.
Elisa Pinzan had a career-high 26 points to go with 10 assists while the Bulls scored 28 points off turnovers to beat the Ducks 71-62 in Monday’s third-place game at the inaugural women’s tournament at the Atlantis resort.
It came after a week that saw the Bulls (4-2) squander an end-of-third-quarter lead at No. 16 Tennessee, and then fail to hold a lead late in the third against No. 2 UConn in the Atlantis semifinals.
This time, they stretched out a 46-39 lead entering the fourth to 17, then showed composure at the line to close it out after the Ducks (3-2) made a late run.
“We finished off the game,” Fernandez said, adding: “We learned from (the losses). And that’s what you need to do throughout the season.”
Sydni Harvey added 22 points and Dulcy Mendjiadeu Fankam had 17 off the bench for the Bulls, who repeatedly got their hands in passing lanes for deflections to interrupt Oregon’s attempts to find rhythm.
Sydney Parrish and Ahlise Hurst each scored 15 points for Oregon, which committed a season-high 25 turnovers in a mistake-filled performance that helped South Florida get 16 more shots for the game.
“We just have to make better decisions,” Graves said. “I think that’s it. Play harder, play tougher, be more physical. I mean, I sound down. I am right now. But I think we’re fixable.”
The turnovers came from everywhere. Point guard Maddie Scherr had seven and was benched at one point in the third after a run of three straight. Four other players had at least three each.
“There were several turnovers where it was like, ‘Really? That’s how we’re going to turn the ball over?’” Graves said. “So I’ve just got to do a better job of coaching them up.”
USF: The Bulls had no trouble in their Atlantis opener against Syracuse (77-53), then pushed No. 2 UConn before falling 60-53 — the closest margin for the Bulls in 33 meetings with the Huskies. But South Florida responded by beating a ranked team for just the second time in the past 11 chances.
Oregon: The Ducks were shorthanded for their entire three-game stay in Atlantis. They didn’t have guards Te-Hina Paopao, Taylor Bigby or Endyia Rogers at all. Then post player Nyara Sabally, who had 30 points in the first-round shootout win against Oklahoma, didn’t play in Sunday’s semifinal loss to No. 1 South Carolina or in this one due to a knee issue. The Ducks had 20 turnovers against the Gamecocks then were worse with the ball against the Bulls.
PINZAN’S BIG GAME
Pinzan had a huge second half, highlighted by a long banked-in 3-pointer from near the USF bench to beat the horn ending the third quarter. She went on to score 16 fourth-quarter points, including eight during a 10-0 run that stretched the lead out.
She started by bringing the ball up after yet another Oregon turnover and pulled up for a straightaway 3 with no defender anywhere near her. She followed with another 3, arms raised in jubilation, moments later then scored on a runout to make it 58-41 with 5:10 left.
When this was over, she led the screaming celebration with a sprint to the bench where the Bulls danced around after beating a ranked foe.
“I just think my teammates and coaching staff, they were all supporting me, telling e to slow down when I needed to slow down and control the pace,” Pinzan said. “That’s what got me going.”
Oregon got as close as 59-55 on Sedona Prince’s three-point play with 47.1 seconds left. But South Florida went 12 for 12 at the line from there, with Harvey hitting four and then Pinzan making the final eight.
Harvey credited team practices ending with players all shooting 50 free throws to prepare for that moment.
“I think we were just there mentally and just knew what we had to do,” Harvey said. “We do this every day.”
USF: The Bulls are sticking around the Bahamas, venturing to the nearby Baha Mar resort in Nassau to face No. 7 Stanford on Friday.
Oregon: The Ducks will get some time off before hosting UC Davis on Dec. 1.
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By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer