USF starts tough five-game stretch at No.12 Louisville
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 00:02
The women’s basketball team (17-7, 6-5) starts a five-game stretch tonight that will prove to be the toughest set of games for USF all season.
Three of the last five teams USF will play to close out its season are Top 25 in the nation.
First on the list is No. 12 Louisville (21-5, 9-3), with which the Bulls will tip off at 7 p.m.
After playing a Cardinals team that already defeated the Bulls in the Sun Dome on Jan. 30, USF will host No. 21 Syracuse, travel to Rutgers, 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 the conference — for better or worse.
Senior guard Andrea Smith and the Bulls team have taken a “game-by-game” mentality this season. With that mindset in consideration, what lies in store for the Bulls as they head to Louisville to face the Cardinals?
While Louisville beat USF at home, many may forget that only three points separated the Bulls from taking the top-ranked Cardinals to overtime. A USF win that night would have made for a huge upset.
Now, heading to the Cardinals’ neck of the woods, the Bulls look for a win.
USF will also look to fix a few errors that kept it from a win in its last meeting with Louisville.
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 the Cardinals to the line numerous times, were certainly big roles in the home loss for the Bulls.
Another challenge that the Cardinals pose, in addition to their high-octane defense, is the scoring that comes from their junior guard Shoni Schimmel, who put up 38 points in the Sun Dome.
Schimmel was deadly from three-point range, hitting eight of her 14 three-pointers, and was nearly unstoppable from everywhere else on the court. If USF can lock down Schimmel in her home court, it would be a huge relief for the Bulls.
With the usual USF scoring that came from the Smith sisters and junior forward Inga Orekhova, it was a freshman that stepped up against Louisville in January, 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 enters Louisville on a six-game double-digit scoring streak, she and the Bulls hope to embark on a streak of their own.