Road, C-USA and Marquette have USF’s number

The University of South Florida women’s basketball team hits the road again for Conference USA games against Marquette tonight and Sunday against DePaul.

The road has not been kind to the Bulls (5-9, 0-1) this season, as the team is still searching for a victory away from the Sun Dome.

Adding to the road woes is the fact that the Bulls have struggled in the past against both of their opponents this weekend.

The Bulls have never defeated Marquette, losing each of their 15 previous games to the Golden Eagles (8-5, 0-1).

DePaul (12-4, 1-0) is undefeated at home this season, and USF only has one victory in Chicago in school history.

USF lost its C-USA opener last Sunday, 73-71 to UAB, but this weekends games should be more tough, considering Marquette and DePaul are two of the top conference teams this year. The two squared off last Sunday, with DePaul defeating Marquette 62-57 on the road.

“Starting conference play on the road is tough,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “It’s disappointing to start 0-1 in the conference. It’s an unfortunate situation that we went on (to UAB) and didn’t get the win, but we’ve got 13 conference games left and we’ll take them one at a time.”

Fernandez said there are two key areas the Bulls must concentrate on this weekend if his team is going to earn its first road victory of the season.

“We’re going to really have to defend,” Fernandez said. “And definitely when you go on the road, you have to shoot the ball well.”

Defense hasn’t been a problem for the Bulls so far this season, but inconsistency on the offensive end has doomed the team.

Up to this point, Fernandez isn’t sure where the team’s offense is going to come from.

“We’ve had major (offensive) inconsistency this year,” Fernandez said. “You see Sonia Cotton and Aiya Shepard have a great game, and then the next game, one of them has four (points) and the other has six. We’ve got to be more consistent, individually, for us to be successful.”

One thing that could help the Bulls this weekend, is the return of junior center Jameelah Trimble, who sat out all but eight minutes against UAB for disciplinary reasons.

Fernandez is anticipating her return this weekend.

“We look forward to her being a big part of both games this weekend,” Fernandez said. “She’s going to have to rebound and give us some point production. If she goes out and gives us 12 (points) and 10 (rebounds), that is what we want from her.

“Now everybody else is going to have to bring it. Aiya Shepard had 22 (points) last game, so we expect her to have 14 or 15. Sonia (Cotton), Tristen (Webb), Alana (Tanksley) and Jen Kline — if they can give us eight points apiece, then we should win. We just can’t have a major drop-off.”

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