Hartford-bound: Bulls beat Marquette
USF got the road win it needed Monday night, knocking off Marquette 61-56 in Milwaukee to rally for a spot in this weekend's Big East tournament. The Bulls, who upset Pittsburgh in Tampa on Saturday, will be the No. 11 seed in Hartford after being on the outside looking in for much of the Big East season.
It took an uneasy hour after Monday night's win for Big East officials to confirm that USF had made the tournament, with complicated tiebreakers that apparently took a while to sort out. Just after midnight, the Bulls were assured they had indeed earned a trip to Hartford, where the tournament begins Saturday. USF will face sixth-seeded Syracuse at 8 p.m., with the winner facing third-seeded West Virginia on Sunday.
The win also helps the Bulls' chances of another trip to the postseason in the Women's NIT, since it guarantees at least a .500 record for the season. USF clinged to a 56-55 lead with a minute to play but scored the next five points to seal the win -- Marquette had been 12-3 at home this season. Shantia Grace led the Bulls with 28 points.
Guard Jazmine Sepulveda scored on a putback and foul for a 59-55 lead with 39 seconds remaining. Jessica Lawson added two free throws with 28 seconds left for the Bulls' final points.
The Bulls finished in a three-way tie for 11th place with Georgetown and Villanova but won out because their best win was against a team higher in the league standings than the Hoyas or Wildcats. If I'm reading the tiebreakers correctly on another three-way tie for fifth place, the Bulls should face sixth-seeded Syracuse in Saturday's first round. The Bulls lost to the Orange, 67-60 in Tampa, in their regular-season meeting in January.