UNCASVILLE, Conn. — USF coach Jose Fernandez believes his team has done enough to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. He hopes the selection committee agrees.
Inga Orekhova and Courtney Williams scored 19 each in the Bulls' 60-56 loss to No. 3 Louisville on Sunday in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
USF has been playing extremely well since it has gotten healthy, winning nine of 11 games going in. USF's only losses since Jan. 1 have come to either top-ranked UConn or Louisville.
"I think this team came out and pleaded its case to the NCAA committee," Fernandez said. "I was proud of our kids' effort and fight. It's a tough way to lose, but I think this team still has a lot of basketball left to play this year. We'll see what happens."
Third-seeded USF (19-12) could have nearly assured itself of a berth by beating second-seeded Louisville, but Shoni Schimmel hit a pullup in the lane with six seconds left to give the Cardinals the victory.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz said the Bulls deserve to make the tournament.
"If they aren't one of 64 teams in NCAA Tournament, it's a shame," he said. "They're healthy now and got everybody back. If we're trying to put the best 64 teams in the tournament, there is no question South Florida should be in."
The Cardinals (30-3) will face top-ranked Connecticut tonight for the tournament title.
NO. 1 UCONN 83, NO. 24 RUTGERS 57: Breanna Stewart scored 22 for the Huskies (33-0), who breezed past the Scarlet Knights (22-9) and into the finals of the American Athletic tournament.
NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 69, NO. 10 DUKE 53: Jewell Loyd scored 18 of her 26 in the second half, and the Irish (32-0) forced 20 turnovers by the Blue Devils (27-6) to win the ACC tournament final in Greensboro, N.C.
NO. 6 TENN. 71, NO. 12 KENTUCKY 70: Meighan Simmons scored 17 and hit two go-ahead free throws with 1:45 left as the Vols (27-5) edged the Wildcats (24-8) in Duluth, Ga., for their 17th SEC tournament title.
NO. 7 W. VA. 67, TEXAS 60: Bria Holmes scored 23 for the Mountaineers (29-3), who outscored the Longhorns 28-14 from the free-throw line in the Big 12 tournament semifinals in Oklahoma City.
NO. 9 BAYLOR 65, NO. 18 OKLA. ST. 61: Nina Davis scored 18 for the Bears (28-4), who held off the Cowgirls (23-8) in the Big 12 semifinals.
NO. 16 NEBRASKA 72, NO. 23 IOWA 65: Rachel Theriot scored 19 of her 24 in the second half, leading the Cornhuskers (25-6) past the Hawkeyes (26-8) in the Big Ten tournament final in Indianapolis.
NO. 25 DEPAUL 78, G'TOWN 54: Megan Rogowski and Megan Podkowa scored 17 each for the top-seeded Blue Demons (25-6) in a Big East tournament quarterfinal in Chicago.
A-10: Erin Rooney had 13 points and 13 rebounds as third-seeded Fordham (25-7) beat top-seeded Dayton 63-51 for the Atlantic 10 championship in Richmond, Va.
BIG SOUTH: Dequesha McClanahan had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead third-seeded Winthrop (24-8) to its first tournament title with an 87-74 victory over top-seeded High Point in Conway, S.C.
PAC-12: Kiki Alofaituli scored 12 of her 15 in the second half, and fifth-seeded Southern California (22-12) earned its first conference tournament title by rallying for a 71-62 win over third-seeded Oregon State in Seattle.
SSC: Top-seeded Tampa (22-6) lost 64-55 to Nova Southeastern in the Sunshine State Conference tournament championship game in Kissimmee. The Spartans and Saint Leo (20-9) earned at-large bids to the NCAA Division II Tournament in the South Region. No. 2 seed Tampa opens against West Florida and the sixth-seeded Lions against Rollins on Friday. In other league news, Saint Leo senior guard Teresa Manigrasso and Tampa senior guard Illyssa Vivo were named All-SSC first team. Tampa sophomore guard Ellen Nurmi was named newcomer of the year, and Tampa's Tom Jessee was coach of the year for the third time.
KANSAS STATE: Coach Deb Patterson was fired after an 11-19 season. Patterson was 350-226 in 18 seasons at the school.