NASSAU, Bahamas – South Florida coach Jose Fernandez had total faith that Sydni Harvey would hit the game-winning shot when he drew up the final play in a timeout.
The junior guard hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 2.8 seconds left, sending No. 18 South Florida to a 57-54 win over seventh-ranked Stanford in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship tournament on Friday.
“Coach called the play and I hit the shot and we had a couple of defensive stops and that was that,” Harvey said. “It was a very exciting game to play in.”
With a flight home shortly after the game, Fernandez was going for the victory instead of trying to force overtime.
“We had to catch our flight out of here,” Fernandez said laughing.
Led by Harvey’s 15 points, South Florida posted its second victory over a top-10 opponent this week and only the third overall for the program.
“It gives us confidence we can hang with anybody in the country,” Harvey said.
South Florida’s Bethy Mununga matched a career high with 23 rebounds, to go along with six points.
Trailing by two in the final seconds, Harvey caught a pass from the corner and swished the 3-pointer in front of her coach.
Stanford (4-2) couldn’t recover.
The Bulls (5-2) completed a difficult stretch, playing four ranked teams in their last five games. Before coming to the Bahamas, South Florida lost at Tennessee. Fernandez’s team then played UConn tough before losing and beat then-No. 9 Oregon.
“That five-game stretch was difficult on us,” Fernandez said. “We were tied up in the fourth quarter against Connecticut and rebounded against Oregon. This was good for us. We had two days to get ready for them. We defended. We got the stops when we needed to especially at the end of the game.”
Cameron Brink had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Stanford.
Stanford rallied from 12 down and took a 53-52 lead on Lacey Hull’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 14.1 seconds left. After a miss by South Florida, Brooke Demetre hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game and set up Harvey’s big shot.
Elisa Pinzan added two free throws for the final margin as Stanford couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.
“Always tough to lose a game like that,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “We made some real big plays. Really proud of our team and how we battled in the second half. Credit South Florida, they made a real big shot when they needed to. We’ve made shots like that before.”
South Florida led 28-19 at halftime and increased its advantage to 12 before Stanford started to rally behind its 3-point shooting. The Cardinal tied it at 42 early in the fourth quarter before South Florida scored five straight. Stanford rallied and took its first lead of the game with 4:18 left on Demetre’s 3-pointer from the wing.
Neither team scored again until Elena Tsineke’s floater in the lane with 2:05 remaining. After more misses, Mununga grabbed her 23rd rebound with 27.8 seconds left and was fouled. She hit the second of two free throws to make it 52-50.
Stanford wanted to play a third game while on this trip east so the contest against South Florida was added. The Bulls played in the other tournament on the island, finishing third at the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis event.
The game was played at the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas in a converted ballroom complete with a low ceiling and a raised stage right off midcourt that held up the scoreboard. There were bleachers behind the two benches for fans to sit on.
South Florida: Another big win for the Bulls should position them well in March to get a higher seed and move up the rankings
Stanford: The Cardinal got a chance to play some of the team’s younger players and will have plenty of opportunities to get big wins during the rest of the season.
Stanford was just 4 for 12 from the free-throw line.
“You’re never going to win close games like this shooting 4 for 12 from the free-throw line,” VanDerveer said.
Brink’s 20-point, 20-rebound game on Thursday was the school’s first since Chiney Ogwumike did it in 2014. … Friday’s game marked the first meeting between the schools in women’s basketball.
South Florida: The Bulls have a few days off before visiting UT Arlington on Dec. 2.
Stanford: The Cardinal close out their tournament with a game against No. 2 Maryland on Saturday.