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Benched USF star erupts for 31, sets record

What a night for the South Florida Bulls as they were able to avoid being upset by Colorado State. Courtney Williams came off the bench giving the perfect life for the Bulls.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles, CA -- Courtney Williams and her herd of Bulls’ played an aggressive and close game in the first round against Colorado State at the Pauley Pavilion Saturday night.

After the first two minutes into round one of the NCAA tournament, Colorado State forward Keyora Wharry, hit a jumper to get the game going.

Rams’ Jamie Patrick blocked Kitija Laska’s attempt at a three-point shot which allowed for a Colorado State defensive rebound. Ellen Nystrom linked up with Patrick on back-to-back possessions for two three-pointers, going up 10-0.

South Florida’s Williams, hit a jumper and followed it with a three-pointer to trail 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.

To open the second quarter, Patrick hit a wide open three-pointer as the shot clock went off.

Williams would take advantage of the free throws after being fouled by Wharry not once, but twice.

With a calculated pass from Shalethia Stringfield, Laksa hit a three-pointer to finally take the lead, 17-15.

"Definitely tempo, getting my teammates the assists and delivering the passes to get them going," said Stringfield when asked the keys of running the team.

Back and forth the buckets would go the remainder of the quarter. Williams would sink a jumper, then Elin Gustavsson with a Rams’ jumper. Stringfield nailed a Bulls’ three-pointer, then Patrick hit a Rams’ three-pointer.

After Gustavsson hit a layup with .57 seconds left in the half, Colorado State took the lead back by one point. Colorado State led at the half, 24-23.

Tensions were high as the second half was underway.

Nystrom came right out with a jumper and Stringfield matcher her with a floater on the next possession to start the third.

Williams would keep the Bulls’ momentum going with a quicker jumper and then a two-point put back, extending their lead to three.

Right off of the inbound, Stringfield found Williams who would hit another jumper, with 3:04 left in the third.

With another two jump shots, Williams finished the first three quarters with 25 points and South Florida was leading at the end of the third quarter, 40-32. At the start of the fourth, South Florida came out strong and eager to shut down the Rams. First, Jenkins hits a layup, then Williams with a 12-foot jumper to go up 44-34.

But the Rams were not going down that easily, especially after Patrick hit a step back three to trail by seven points with 5:57 left.

After a quick breather from a Rams’ timeout, it would be the Bulls’ who would benefit from it, as Williams delivered a layup and forced a turnover on the next call.

As the clock dwindled down, Rams’ Hannah Tvrdy sunk a crucial three-pointer, making it only a three-point game with 1:31 left.

Patrick attempted to tie the game with .20 seconds left, but it was no good. Patrick finished with 17 points.

"Every second of that game, we had the mentality we were going to win that game even up until the final seconds," said Patrick about the emotional fourth quarter.

The South Florida Bulls advance to the second round after defeating Colorado State, 48-45.

Williams finished the night with 31 points, six rebounds and four steals.

South Florida will go head-to-head with UCLA Monday night for Round Two of the NCAA Tournament.