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Bulls come home looking for help

The University of South Florida’s women’s basketball team hopes to end its two-game slide and break into the win column when it hosts Chicago State tonight at 7 in the Sun Dome.

USF dropped its first two games of the season to Miami and Florida, both by 11 points.

Poor shooting plagued the Bulls on the road, but they hope a kinder and softer rim awaits them on their home court.

The Bulls managed to make just 26 percent of their field goal attempts in the first two games. Only three Bulls, Sarah Lochmann, Jameelah Trimble and Sharon Cambridge, averaged more than 32 percent from the field.

“I definitely wish we would have shot the ball better,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “I wish I had an answer (to the poor shooting). We’re not going to beat anybody shooting like that.”

Senior Sonia Cotton and sophomore Tristen Webb are the two Bulls struggling the most early in the season, connecting on just 3-of-25 and 5-of-24 field goals, respectively.

“We’re missing a lot of our offense with the poor shooting from (Sonia) Cotton and (Tristen) Webb,” Fernandez said. “You have to shoot your way out of slumps.”

Another reason the Bulls are struggling is the lack of bench production. Alana Tanksley and Cambridge, who garner the most minutes off the bench, have combined to score just 11 points in the first two games.

“Our depth is a concern right now with not having the productivity off the bench,” Fernandez said.

The Bulls have had individual standouts on the offensive end in the first two games. Senior guard Aiya Shepard scored 16 points against Miami, and Lochmann poured in a career-high 26 against Florida.

However, USF has yet to top 30 percent shooting from the floor as a team.

Although the Bulls are struggling on the offensive end early this season, the defense has played well. USF has forced 51 turnovers in the first two games and only been out-rebounded by 10 boards, most of which were defensive boards provided by the Bulls’ poor shooting.

The Bulls have also held their opponents to 36 percent shooting, allowing an average of just 65 points a game.

“We’re defending well enough to win ballgames,” Fernandez said. “We’ve just got to put the ball in the basket. If you look at the stats on paper, you would wonder, how did we lose? We outshot our opponents, forced more turnovers and rebounded the ball well.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up,” he said. “We can’t hang our heads. It’s a long season.”

The Bulls host the Best Western Classic Saturday and Sunday at the Sun Dome. They play Bethune-Cookman Saturday at 7 p.m. The early game features Gardner-Webb against Birmingham Southern at 5 p.m.

The winners square off Sunday at 3 p.m., and the losers play at 1 p.m.