Any optimism USF’s women might have harbored about their NCAA Tournament seeding regressed from guarded to grim Tuesday.
No. 8-seeded Wichita State (18-13) built a 15-point first-half lead against the top-seeded Bulls (26-6), who never found their long-range shooting touch in a 65-53 loss in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals in Fort Worth, Texas.
The upset marked the first time in the tournament’s nine-year history that a No. 1 seed lost. The Bulls still are considered a lock for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, having entered the event with a No. 30 NCAA Evaluation Tool ranking, the primary tool used for at-large selections and seedings.
But their hopes of a No. 5 or 6 seed vanished with their shooting stroke Tuesday. USF’s 4-for-22 effort from 3-point range (18.2%) was its second-worst of the season.
“Our kids didn’t come here satisfied that we already won the (league regular season title),” Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said. “The kids came to win three games in three days. That didn’t happen. Now we’ve got to regroup and find out where the (NCAA selection) committee is going to send us.”
The Bulls, who never led Tuesday, scored 11 consecutive third-quarter points to cut the Shockers’ lead to two, 35-33, but Wichita State answered with a 3-pointer at the other end and didn’t relent from there. The Shockers shot 47.1% from the floor (24-for-51), while USF was 19-for-60 (31.7%).
“We couldn’t get it going on either end of the floor,” Fernandez said. “Uncharacteristic for us to shoot 31 percent. That hasn’t been us all year.”
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