(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

USF topples Houston in WNIT opener

Strong starts to start the game and to open the second half propelled the USF women’s basketball team to a 71-63 upset of Houston in the opening round of the WNIT Fort Worth Regional on Friday.

The Dons (16-10), who earned a postseason tournament bid for the first time since 2016, advance to Saturday’s 5 p.m. semifinal against either Cal Baptist (24-0) or New Mexico (15-4). The regional championship is Monday. All games are streamed on FloHoops.com.

It is the Dons’ first postseason win in either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT since shocking 13th-ranked Duke 64-60 on the Blue Devils’ home court in the NCAA second round.

Sophomore guard Amalie Langer scored 23 points to lead USF, while senior guard Lucie Hoskva added 18 points and six rebounds and freshman Ioanna Krimili had 14 points. Freshman guard Laila Blair had a game-high 19 points and sophomore guard Miya Crump had 12 for the Cougars (16-8), who were the first alternate team for the NCAA Tournament and is now in the WNIT’s consolation bracket.

After Crump opened the game with a 3-pointer, Langer — averaging 9.7 points per game — scored the next six points and then capped a 13-2 run with her second 3-pointer. Houston battled back to take a 39-38 lead before it was tied 39-39 at halftime.

Hoskova got hot in the third quarter, scoring 10 points to help the Dons take a 61-54 lead entering the final 10 minutes. Langer broke a 48-48 tie with a 3-pointer and Hoskova followed with a three-point play to give USF the lead for good.

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