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NCAA Tournament still possible for women

The USF women’s basketball team looks to set a school record this weekend and pad its NCAA tournament resumé at the same time.

USF (15-5, 5-5 C-USA) will travel to Fogelman Arena on Friday to take on Tulane and then to Southern Miss on Sunday.

Sophomore center Nalini Miller will play in her second straight game since missing a month due to a strained hamstring. In her return — a win over Charlotte — Miller played 20 minutes, scored five points and grabbed three rebounds.

Miller, who was averaging 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds before her injury, will be counted on to score, rebound and block shots, something she has done better than most in school history.

Sophomore forward Jessica Dickson continues to lead the Bulls in scoring, averaging 16 points a game, and is coming off a 21-point performance against Charlotte on Monday.

Winning both games would give the Bulls a school record for wins in a season with 17. USF is on a six-game road losing streak, but are favored to win both games against a couple of C-USA’s cellar dwellers.

The Bulls need to win both to stay in contention for an at-large NCAA tournament berth, as a loss would more than likely eliminate them.

USF would need to make a long run in the conference tournament — or win it — to get an NCAA bid.

Coach Jose Fernandez knows what his team still needs to do.

“We are pretty much a lock for the WNIT,” he said. “But we also still have a shot at the NCAA tournament.”

USF has beaten Southern Miss (8-14, 2-2 C-USA) two years in a row, including a 70-38 drubbing last year.

USF is coming off their biggest win of the year after upsetting Charlotte, who was previously in first place in C-USA at 7-1.

The Bulls also routed Tulane (10-12, 2-7 C-USA) last season, 77-60.

Last year, though, means nothing to the Bulls. They only care about this year and their preseason goals.

“We still can accomplish our preseason goals,” Fernandez said. “Like most wins in school history, winning the conference tournament and making the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.”

Achieving just two of the goals would make the season a huge success. But achieving none would be a huge disappointment to a season that started with such promise.