South Florida couldn't overcome one final run by fifth-ranked Louisville.
Shoni Schimmel scored 25 points, five of them in the final seven minutes to help Louisville hold off the Bulls 62-54 on Sunday.
Schimmel's three-point play finished an 11-1 run the Cardinals (16-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) used to take control for good after USF (8-8, 3-2) trimmed what had been a 17-point second-half deficit to 49-47. Sara Hammond began the spurt with a 3-point play and finished with 14.
"We let them go on a run, and we didn't answer," South Florida guard Courtney Williams said.
Williams led USF with 19 points, but only had four in the second half. Alisia Jenkins had 12 points and led a 17-2 run that got the Bulls back into the game.
"That we could actually beat this team," said Jenkins, when asked about the Bulls getting within two points. "I had all the confidence in the world, and I still do have all the confidence. We are capable of beating Louisville."
Louisville overcame cold shooting for the second straight game, building its big lead after settling for a 33-27 halftime lead while shooting 33 percent from the field and committing 10 turnovers before intermission.
Despite going 23 of 71 from the field (32.4 percent), the Cardinals won for the ninth straight time since a 69-64 loss to Kentucky on Dec. 1. They also shot 32 percent in last week' 19-point conference victory over Cincinnati.
"What I'm excited about is, the fact we have struggled shooting the basketball, but we're still defending," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "Courtney Williams is a special player and she gets 15 in the first half, and then we hold her to four in the second. I felt like we did a really nice job of defending."
Schimmel, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, scored 11 straight points over a three-minute stretch, making a trio of 3-pointers and adding a layup off a steal, to turn a six-point lead into a 47-30 advantage.
"She made big plays," Williams said. "She showed up the second half."
But just when it looked like Louisville might be on the verge of running away with it, USF launched a methodical comeback. Jenkins made two free throws to trim finish a 17-2 run that trimmed Louisville's lead to 49-47 with 7:06 remaining, but that was as close as the Bulls would get before Hammond and Schimmel asserted themselves down the stretch.
Bria Smith scored 10 points for Louisville.
Williams kept USF close early with 15 first-half points on 7 of 10 shooting. But the 5-foot-8 guard went just 2 of 6 the rest of the way and was limited to two points after halftime until scoring in the closing seconds after Louisville had rebuilt its lead to double digits.