The Cougars returned to Hofheinz Wednesday night to fall to the South Florida Bulls 71-55 in the first game of the new semester.
Led by junior guard Alecia Smith’s 22 points off the bench, the Cougars fought hard from start to finish, trimming the lead to seven points at half and finishing the game on an 11-2 run.
“But we did bring it to them tonight; great effort on our end,” head coach Ronald Hughey said. “(If we) make a few more shots, we are right there.”
The Cougar defense did a solid job of holding the Bulls to 2-10 from the 3-point line, but couldn’t stop the powerful offense as they shot 52.6 percent from the field.
Smith provided a spark off the bench, going 6-7 in three-point attempts and had her first 20-point game of the season.
“I’m just trying to do whatever my team needs,” Smith said. “It’s been a rollercoaster, up and down, up and down, and (Hughey has) been saying to be consistent. Team first, so I just think about my team and it just clicked when I came on the floor.”
Junior guard Jessieka Palmer and junior forward Marche’ Amerson each scored 10 points, joining Smith as the three Cougars to finish in double-digit scoring.
The Cougars look to keep improving in AAC play Saturday at 2 p.m. as they travel to Memphis in their first contest between the two since the AAC tournament last season.
“I really think that with that energy and effort and that heart starting to be more exposed now, they’ll really come around and we’ll start to straighten those things out,” Hughey said.