USF Weathers Pittsburgh's Second Half Rally, Wins 60-59

CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
USF PRESS CONFERENCE
INTERVIEW WITH INGA OREKHOVA
INTERVIEW WITH JOSE FERNANDEZ
BOX SCORE
QUOTES
NOTES

HARTFORD, Conn. - No. 9 seed USF (17-14) held off a furious rally by No. 16 seed Pittsburgh (8-22) to claim a 60-59 victory in the opening round of the 2012 BIG EAST women's basketball Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters. USF junior Inga Orekhova scored a game-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers.

USF raced out to a 23-9 lead in the opening minutes of the game, as Orekhova nailed four 3-pointers. The Bulls went into halftime with a 39-20 lead and shot 48.4-percent from the field. USF also was 7-of-10 from 3-point range. Orekhova scored 21 points in the first half alone, while Pitt totaled 20.

The Bulls led by as many as 21 (41-20 with 18:49 left in the game) before Pitt clawed back using a 19-2 run to cut it to four (43-39) with 12:53 left. Later, the Panthers tied it 55-55 with 2:19 left in the game setting up a dramatic finish.

Panthers redshirt-sophomore Leeza Burdgess converted a jumper with 1:50 left in the game to give Pitt its first lead of the contest, 57-55.

USF senior Jasmine Wynne (the BIG EAST's Most Improved Player) answered with a layup to tie it a 57, with 1:23 left.

Pitt freshman guard Brianna Kiesel made a jumper with 53-seconds left to put Pitt ahead 59-57.

USF senior Andrell Smith made a 3-pointer, her fourth of the game, with 43-seconds remaining.

Kiesel had a final look at the basket in the waning seconds, but her jumper from 10-feet away, rimmed out.

With the win, the Bulls advance to play No. 8 seed DePaul on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.