The USF women’s basketball team had its NCAA tournament hopes severely damaged in a 63-59 home loss to East Carolina on Saturday. The Bulls must win their final five games or win the Conference USA tournament to earn what would be their first tournament birth in school history.
The Bulls (14-9, 4-5 C-USA) had their nine-game home winning streak snapped with the loss.
Coach Jose Fernandez, who was disappointed with the home loss said, “It’s a devastating loss and there’s no excuse for it. The season isn’t over, though. We just have to worry about ourselves and playing good, sound team basketball.”
The Pirates (8-13, 4-4 C-USA) were able to hold off USF with clutch foul shooting. They connected on 22 of 29 from the line. USF was dominated on the boards once again (45-28) without sophomore center Nalini Miller, who sat out for the eighth consecutive game, but did participate in pre-game warm-ups.
Senior center Jennifer Jackson led the way for ECU with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while sophomore forward Jessica Dickson led the Bulls with 17 points. Senior guard Anedra Gilmore chipped in with 16 and sophomore guard Rachael Sheats added 12. Junior forward Ezria Parsons lead USF with 12 rebounds.
Dickson and Sheats were both saddled with foul trouble the entire game, which limited their playing time.
“We still have to play hard, hopefully get some wins and get better for the conference tournament,” Sheats said.
USF will host first-place Charlotte (19-3, 7-1 C-USA) tonight. The Bulls are in must-win mode as they play three straight on the road after tonight. USF has lost six straight and are winless on the road in C-USA play. Miller is questionable for tonight’s game and is expected back in less than a week.
“Just because things didn’t go our way today, we can’t stop playing,” Sheats said.