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Bulls host WVU to open second half of Big East season

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 23:01


After faltering late in the game against No. 3 Connecticut last weekend, the USF women's basketball team returns home to host West Virginia in the Campus Recreation Center tonight to begin the second half of its conference slate.

After beating Seton Hall just a week ago, coach Jose Fernandez made home games a key point.

"You need to protect your home floor," he said. "With our record, we can't afford to lose any more home games. We've got to protect the home floor if we want to finish with a good enough conference record to go to the NCAA Tournament."

Despite the 72-62 loss to UConn, USF (12-10, 4-4) still enters this game with some measure of positive momentum.

Junior guard Caitlin Rowe led the Bulls in scoring during the loss, with a career-high 20 points, including four made 3-pointers — one short of her previous season total of five.

Contributing to the 3-point shootout, junior guard Inga Orekhova stepped up, adding another five 3-pointers and recovering from a poor shooting effort in her previous game against Seton Hall, when she went 0-of-7 from the 3-point range.

The Mountaineers (15-6, 5-3) arrive in Tampa after a dominant home win over Marquette. After the 53-32 win over the Golden Eagles on Saturday, West Virginia ranks second in the Big East in scoring defense.

Though the West Virginia defense is playing well, having not allowed a single Marquette player to score double-digit points last week, both offenses are producing similar numbers. West Virginia stands at sixth in the Big East in scoring offense, with an average of 67.1 points per game, while USF trails at seventh with 64.8.

Tonight's game is the first of four home games the Bulls will play in the final eight games of the regular season as they try to improve their seeding for the Big East Tournament and qualify for the postseason.

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