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Big win for USF women; men to face Seton Hall

7

March

Lots to get to, after a busy day driving up to Crystal River for the memorial service for former USF tight end Will Bleakley. Huge turnout, with more than a thousand people packed in and around Crystal River United Methodist Church, including at least 20 former USF teammates, head coach Jim Leavitt, assistant Carl Franks and strength coach Ronnie McKeefery.

Surprising and encouraging to see former USF walk-on Nick Schuyler, released from a Tampa hospital after being rescued in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, there to pay respects to his friend and teammate. Schuyler looked amazingly well, walking slowly but steadily and getting big hugs from a lot of friends who didn't think they'd ever see him again. We'll have more from Crystal River tonight or tomorrow ...

-- USF's women's basketball team got a 10-point win against Cincinnati that should clinch the program's second-ever NCAA Tournament berth. The Bulls have 22 wins now -- that's been Jose Fernandez's "magic number" to feel safe about earning an at-large spot -- though they face a ridiculous challenge in facing No. 1 Connecticut in Hartford on Sunday. Senior Jazmine Sepulveda hit eight 3-pointers and fellow senior Shantia Grace had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. The Bulls led by just one at the half, but came out of the break with a 10-2 run. Again, we'll come back to how confident the Bulls should be about their NCAA future in the next day or two ...

-- Disappointing loss for USF's men, who couldn't string together back-to-back wins, even against a Rutgers team that came in 1-16 in Big East play. Yes, the Bulls have won two Big East road games in four seasons, so it's hard to call it an upset for Rutgers, but this was a game USF expected to win. This year's team cannot survive an off-night by Dominique Jones, and 5-for-19 (with 0-for-6 on 3-pointers) qualifies as an off-night. Jones had 11 points and Chris Howard 10, and senior guard Jesus Verdejo returned from his foot injury to add five points in 22 minutes off the bench. USF shot 29.8 percent from the field and was outrebounded 37-28, with no Bulls pulling in more than six boards.

Thanks to Seton Hall's upset of Cincinnati, the Bulls will face the Pirates in Tuesday's 9 p.m. opening-round game. The two teams met just 10 days ago, with the Bulls losing 75-60 in Newark. The key will be turnovers -- USF committed 18 turnovers while forcing just six last time, limiting their transition opportunities. The Bulls also allowed Seton Hall to shoot 46.6 percent and go 9-for-18 on 3-pointers. Still, it's a better draw for the Bulls than the expected opponent going into the day, Georgetown.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:05pm]

    

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