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USF women ranked No. 23 in AP preseason poll

The USF women's basketball team is seeking its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

The USF women's basketball team, seeking its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, is No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason poll released Thursday.

The Bulls, who open the season a week from Friday at home against LSU, return four starters and seven of their top eight scorers from last season's 24-9 team.

It's essentially five starters counting 5-foot-11 senior Laura Ferreira, was limited to nine games last season due to a plantar fascia injury but averaged 9.6 points and 4.4 rebounds as a sophomore.

"I think this team started to have expectations after our last game against Missouri (a 66-64 loss on a buzzer beater) in the NCAA Tournament, and deservedly so," veteran coach Jose Fernandez said.

"There should be expectations when you return four starters and Laura Ferreira's healthy. We signed a really good recruiting class, there should be expectations. That's where our program's at."

Eleven-time national champion Connecticut, stunned by Mississippi state in the national semifinals last season, is the AP's preseason No. 1 team, three spots ahead of reigning national champ South Carolina. FSU, which fell to South Carolina in last season's Elite Eight, is No. 18