ESTERO, Fla. — Maria Jesperson totaled 25 points and seven rebounds and Kitija Laksa added 18 points and eight boards as No. 17 South Florida pulled away late to beat St. John’s 68-59 on Sunday in the third-place game of the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Jesperson hit 7 of 10 shots, including all four of her 3-pointers, and 7 of 8 free throws for the Bulls (6-1). Laksa, coming off a career-high 36 points in a 76-66 loss to Notre Dame, hit two 3-pointers giving her 13 straight games with at least two made 3s.
Andrayah Adams hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 for the Red Storm (3-2), while reserve Qadashah Hoppie hit two 3s and scored 12. Maya Singleton had 11 points and 11 rebounds for St. John’s, while Akina Wellere scored 11.
Jesperson buried a 3-pointer to give South Florida a 36-23 lead, but Adams answered from long range and the Red Storm trailed 36-26 at halftime.
St. John’s knotted the score at 44 with a 6-0 run capped by Adams’ jumper with 3:02 left in the third quarter. But Laksa hit a layup and Jesperson added a three-point play for a 49-44 advantage heading into the final quarter. Hoppie’s 3-pointer got St. John’s within 59-57 with 2:13 left to play, but Laura Ferreira, who had 12 points and seven rebounds, hit a free throw, Laksa buried a jumper and two free throws by Laia Flores settled matters.