Cold shooting hurts USF women on road
We wrote in Saturday's preview capsule that USF's women's basketball game at Marquette was the kind the Bulls need to win if they're going to make the NCAA Tournament -- no Big East road game is easy, but the Bulls won there last season, and Marquette was just 5-4 at home, with recent home losses to Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
A horrid shooting night from USF's top three scorers doomed the Bulls on Saturday in a 68-60 loss that takes some of the intrigue away from Tuesday's home game against No. 1 Connecticut. Had USF come in with a 10-game win streak, it'd be easier to pitch the game as a battle of the top two scoring teams in the country, but a loss like this makes it harder to think USF could play close with the undefeated Huskies.
What went wrong at Marquette? The Bulls went 2-for-18 on 3-pointers, and guards Shantia Grace, Jazmine Sepulveda and Janae Stokes went a combined 9-for-40 overall. Grace had 17 points, but the Bulls weren't the defensive presence they've been, forcing just 13 turnovers, less than half their average. What's more, the Bulls were outrebounded 46-39, and with post players Jessica Lawson, Brittany Denson and Porche Grant going 12-for-17, it's curious why they didn't get the ball more inside. Starting forward Alexis Givands, who missed a game for personal reasons last week, was missing from the lineup again.
This opening loss could dig quite a hole for USF, which now faces the Huskies, then St. John's and Louisville at home. St. John's is 13-1, and Louisville is 14-1 and ranked 13th nationally. Then they're at No. 22 Pittsburgh, so USF easily could be 1-4 or even 0-5 in the Big East before their next "easy" game, which is Jan. 20 at last-place Providence, the only league team with a losing record. If you figure the Bulls need a .500 league record to make the NCAA cut, that's a lot to overcome ...