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Women's basketball to start conference play at home

Published: Monday, January 7, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 14:01

A challenge awaits the USF women’s basketball team as the Bulls (11-2) take on Notre Dame (12-1) Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Sun Dome in what will be the start of the team’s Big East play.

The Bulls will look to extend its two-game winning streak at home against the Fighting Irish, a team which holds the third overall record and a seven game win streak. USF trails Notre Dame at the fifth spot.

In the last two games, the Bulls have beaten their opponents by double figures — a trend that Notre Dame was following before their one point win over Connecticut last weekend.

With USF looking to keep the scoring trend high and Notre Dame looking to stay on a big winning streak, offense will be a key on both sides of the court. Notre Dame has put up an average of 85.2 points per game in out-of-conference play, placing them at second in the Big East. The Bulls have averaged 74.1 points per game.

While the Fighting Irish may have the one-up on the Bulls when it comes to scoring offense, USF’s offense is lead by two Top 10 scorers in the conference — senior guards Andrell and Andrea Smith. The Smith sisters combine to make up for 45 percent of the points scored by the Bulls this season, with Andrell averaging 17.1 points per game and Andrea averaging 16.

Though both offenses are sure to bring excitement to the hardwood, it will be interesting to see how the Bulls, the second best three-point shooting team, will face Notre Dame, the fourth best three-point defense in the conference.

As defense begins to reveal itself as a factor as well another battle will lie within the rebounding game. Notre Dame’s junior guard Natalie Achonwa has had an impressive season so far, snagging 6.3 rebounds per game on the defensive side of the ball. Achonwa is currently third in the conference in rebounds after her game against UConn.

But the Irish’s rebounding will face the number one offensive rebounding team heading into Big East play, USF.

If the stats on paper mean anything then fans should be in for some back and forth basketball, but if history repeats itself it may be an uphill battle on Tuesday night for the Bulls. USF hasn’t defeated Notre Dame since the 2006-07 season.

After Tuesday’s game, the Bulls will play DePaul in Chicago on Saturday. 

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