HARTFORD, Conn. — USF coach Jose Fernandez believes his team has done enough to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. He just hopes the selection committee agrees.
The Bulls fell just short against top seed Notre Dame, losing 75-66 on Sunday in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.
"Hopefully we showed the NCAA committee and everyone in the country that we belong in the NCAA Tournament," Fernandez said.
Senior twins Andrell and Andrea Smith combined for 45 points for the eighth-seeded Bulls (21-10). Matched up against Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins, Andrell scored 27 and hit 10 of 16 shots.
"I was happy that Andrell had such a good game," Fernandez said. "She had been struggling a little bit offensively. To ask her to guard an All-American for 40 minutes and play as well offensively, that was a great performance."
The twins have played together forever and will miss that when their season ends — whenever that may be.
"It's fun playing with this girl," Andrell Smith said, pointing to her sister. "She's my best friend on and off the court. She makes me better as a competitor, player and person."
The Smith sisters just couldn't overcome Notre Dame (29-1) and Natalie Achonwa, who had 20 points and 20 rebounds. Diggins, the Big East player of the year, added 15 points for the Irish, who face Louisville tonight.
MORE BIG EAST: Sara Hammond had 22 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 13 Louisville (24-7) beat St. John's 62-55. … Breanna Stewart scored 21, and No. 3 Connecticut (28-3) bounced back from its loss to Notre Dame with a 94-61 win over DePaul. … Kayla Alexander matched her career high with 34 points, and No. 24 Syracuse (24-6) withstood a rally to beat Villanova 61-56.
ACC: Freshman Alexis Jones scored a career-high 24 and No. 6 Duke (30-2) claimed its eighth tournament title by routing No. 15 North Carolina (28-6) 92-73 in Greensboro, N.C.
BIG SOUTH: Tolu Omotola scored 16 for top-seeded Liberty (27-6), which earned its 15th league tournament title in the past 17 years with a 54-45 victory over Longwood in Conway, S.C.
BIG TEN: Drey Mingo scored 24 and third-seeded Purdue (24-8) won its second straight tournament championship, beating fourth-seeded Michigan State 62-47 in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
PAC-12: Amber Orrange capped a career-high 20-point performance by scoring on a spinning drive with 8.3 seconds left, and No. 4 Stanford (31-2) won its seventh straight tournament title by rallying past No. 14 UCLA 51-49 in Seattle.
SEC: Kelsey Bone had 18 points and 15 rebounds, with most of her production coming in the second half, and No. 19 Texas A&M beat No. 7 Kentucky 75-67 in Duluth, Ga., to win the tournament championship in its first year in the league.
SUNSHINE STATE: Sixth-seeded Saint Leo (14-15) fell to fourth-seeded Rollins (21-8) 74-59 in the final in Kissimmee.
NO. 1 BAYLOR 77, OKLA. ST. 69: Brittney Griner had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bears (31-1) held off a furious late charge in the Big 12 semifinals in Dallas.
ST. JOSEPH'S 61, NO. 11 DAYTON 54: Chatilla van Grinsven had 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Hawks snapped a 15-game winning streak by the Flyers (27-2) in the Atlantic 10 semifinals in Philadelphia.