The womens basketball team (17-7, 6-5) starts afive-game stretch tonight that will prove to be the toughest set of gamesfor USF all season.
Three of the last five teams USF will play to close out itsseason are Top 25 in thenation.
First on the list isNo. 12 Louisville (21-5, 9-3), with which the Bulls will tipoff at 7 p.m.
After playing aCardinals team that alreadydefeated the Bulls in the Sun Dome onJan. 30, USF will host No. 21 Syracuse, travel toRutgers, play at home against No.3 Connecticut and finish off the season at Georgetown.
With a USF squad that sits in the middle of the Big East, these last five games could very well set the Bulls apart from the rest of theconference for better or worse.
Senior guard Andrea Smith and the Bulls team havetaken a game-by-gamementality this season. Withthat mindset inconsideration, what lies in store for the Bulls as they head toLouisville to face theCardinals?
While Louisville beat USF at home, many mayforget that only three pointsseparated the Bulls from taking thetop-ranked Cardinals toovertime. A USF win that night would have made for a huge upset.
Now, heading to theCardinals neck of the woods, the Bulls look for a win.
USF will also look to fix a few errors that kept itfrom a win inits last meeting withLouisville.
The big things that hurt the Bulls last time the teams met were turnovers and fouls. In the 78-75 loss, USF gave up the ball 22 times and fouled the Cardinals 21 times.
Seeing as USF was within one possession of sending the game into overtime that night, those lost possessions,along with sending theCardinals to the linenumerous times, werecertainly big roles in thehome loss for the Bulls.
Another challenge that the Cardinals pose, inaddition to their high-octanedefense, is the scoringthat comes from their junior guard Shoni Schimmel, who put up38 points in the Sun Dome.
Schimmel was deadly from three-point range, hitting eight of her 14 three-pointers, and was nearly unstoppable fromeverywhere else on the court. If USF can lock downSchimmel in her homecourt, it would be a huge relief for the Bulls.
With the usual USFscoring that came from theSmith sisters and juniorforward Inga Orekhova, it was a freshman that stepped up against Louisville inJanuary, and has continued to do so since.
Freshman guard Courtney Williams has been a bright spot for the Bulls offense this season, but may not be the focus heading into Louisville tonight with the spotlight on the Smith twins.
Williams put up 11 points in the loss to the Cardinals, making it her third straight game scoring double-digits at the time.
She has kept up the success since.
As Williams entersLouisville on a six-game double-digit scoring streak,she and the Bulls hope to embark on astreak of their own.