In the middle of a three-week, four-game road stretch and coming off the program’s first win vs. a ranked opponent, the USF women’s basketball team is very guarded against being too complacent when it takes on Louisville at 7 p.m. today and Cincinnati at 3 p.m. Sunday.
“We haven’t talked about (being overconfident or complacent),” said Bulls coach Jose Fernandez. “We viewed all four of these games (Southern Miss, Tulane, Louisville and Cincinnati) as important. That was a great win for the program, but we have to move on. I kept telling the kids that if we play for 40 minutes we can play with anyone.”
The Bulls (12-6, 2-3 in Conference USA) pulled off the upset in their last game, toppling No. 23 Tulane 69-64 Sunday in New Orleans. That game proved to be a big boost for a USF team that was sinking in the conference standings after dropping three straight.
“This is a huge win that’s for sure,” Fernandez said. “I haven’t checked the record books (to see if we’ve beaten a ranked opponent before), but especially since I’ve been here that’s the biggest win.”
The Bulls rode past the Green Wave (15-5, 3-2) even though they were without their two highest scorers. Jen Kline, second on the squad at 15 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, is still nursing a stress fracture in her fibula, but is expected back soon. What was unexpected was Sonia Cotton’s absence vs. the Green Wave. USF’s leading scorer and rebounder with 15.9 and 7.6, respectively, Cotton neither played nor dressed for the game at the discretion of Fernandez.
“For the benefit of our team, it was the best decision not to play Sonia (Sunday). Jen Kline didn’t make the trip because we’re saving her for the stretch run. She’ll be back on Tuesday and play Friday and Sunday. Melissa Tape though went to the hospital with major stomach pains, so we’ll dress eight.”
While the Bulls snapped their three-game losing streak and 16-game drought on the road in C-USA by defeating Tulane, Fernandez’s squad is going to have to keep the momentum rolling if he’s to head into Louisville and reverse USF’s fortunes vs. the Cardinals (11-7, 3-2). The Bulls and Cardinals have faced each other 14 times since 1992, with Louisville emerging victorious every time.
“I wasn’t here, so I could care less,” Fernandez said. “I don’t care and I don’t think the kids do either. That doesn’t concern us, so why bring it up.”
- Anthony Gagliano covers women’s basketball and can be reached at email@example.com