TAMPA — For the second time in four days, USF significantly upgraded its NCAA Tournament resume by knocking off a ranked opponent as the Bulls upset No. 21 Syracuse 68-66 in the Sun Dome on Saturday afternoon.
"I think this team's made a statement, beating two (top 25) teams in a matter of … days," coach Jose Fernandez said. "I think we'll get some national attention, that's for sure."
The Bulls (19-7, 8-5 Big East) rallied from 13 points down in the second half, taking the lead on an Andrell Smith 3-pointer with 1:42 left, then breaking a tie on Akila McDonald's shot with 24 seconds left. Syracuse's last-second heave missed, and the Bulls celebrated their win, coming on the heels of an upset Wednesday night at No. 12 Louisville.
Those wins could result in the Bulls being ranked for the first time in the program's history.
"Are we deserving? I think so," Fernandez said. "You just beat two pretty good teams, and the losses that we have, I think this team has shown they can play with anybody in the country. Rutgers is our next focus, and we'll go from there."
The Bulls hit 11 3-pointers against a Syracuse team that came in with the Big East's toughest 3-point defense in conference play. Andrell Smith finished with 16 points and twin Andrea Smith had 18; freshman Alisia Jenkins had all six of her points in the final five minutes.
"It's kind of been everything we wanted, to be honest. We've worked so hard," said Andrell Smith, who also had six assists. "We're starting to see it pay off. If we can keep this thing rolling, that's just confidence that we'll have going into each game."
TAMPA 58, BARRY 47: Illyssa Vivo and Moriah Hodge had 15 points each for the host Spartans (16-8, 6-8 Sunshine State).
ECKERD 73, P.B. ATLANTIC 46: Rana Thomas had all of her 15 points in the first half for the host Tritons (13-10).
ROLLINS 87, SAINT LEO 74: The host Tars overcame Chelsea Williams' career-high 26 points for the Lions (12-13, 7-8 SSC).
NO. 1 BAYLOR 67, TEXAS 47: Brittney Griner scored 30 for the Bears (26-1, 15-0 Big 12), who won their 24th in a row overall, 54th straight at home and 37th in a row in the conference.
NO. 3 UCONN 90, SETON HALL 30: Kelly Faris and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 18 points each as the host Huskies (25-2, 12-1 Big East) bounced back from their loss to Baylor.
NO. 23 OKLA. ST. 83, OKLAHOMA 62: Toni Young had 17 points and 12 rebounds to give her 1,004 for her career for the host Cowgirls (19-7, 8-7 Big 12).
NO. 25 GREEN BAY 80, VALPO 38: The host Phoenix (22-2, 12-0 Horizon) won its 17th game in a row.
900 ELUSIVE: Host St. John's beat Rutgers 61-48 to deny coach C. Vivian Stringer her 900th victory. The Scarlet Knights have lost four straight since Stringer earned her 899th win.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.