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Women keep tourney hopes alive

USF 66, Tulane 61
USF 68, Southern Miss. 54

Thanks to weekend wins at Tulane and Southern Miss, the USF women’s basketball team made school history by setting a school record for wins in a season, with 17.

Sunday’s win against Southern Miss. broke the previous school record held by the 1977-78 team that went 16-10.

USF (17-9, 7-5 C-USA) edged Tulane 65-61 on Friday. They jumped out to a 10-2 lead and never looked back, shooting 42 percent from the field, and were once again led by sophomore forward Jessica Dickson, who had a game-high 20 points. Senior guard Anedra Gilmore added nine points and seven assists for USF.

Lakethia Hampton paced the Green Wave (10-13, 2-9 C-USA) with 19 points.

The Bulls got the record-clinching win in Sunday’s 68-54 win at Southern Miss.

“It was one of our goals we set before the season,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “It’s special, but we still have a lot of basketball left.”

Sophomore Nalini Miller did not dress versus Southern Miss after playing in the Bulls previous two games. Miller, who was out a month due a knee injury, remains day-to-day.

The Bulls used a new starting-lineup for the game, starting Dickson at center and freshman Chi Chi Okpaleke at forward in place of junior Sharon Cambridge, who usually starts at center. Cambridge responded with the best game of her career, setting a career-high 19 points on 9-10 shooting from the field.

But once again, it was Dickson who was the star, leading all scorers with 22 points. It was her fourth 20-point game in five contests.

“Our players are doing a great job finding her against zone defenses and she’s getting more transition points,” Fernandez said.

Gilmore continued her assist tear versus USM, dishing out 11. She has 30 over her past three games.

Forward Emer Foley led the Golden Eagles (9-15, 3-8 C-USA) with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

The Bulls still have a legitimate shot at their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance if they can win a home and home series against UAB that starts Sunday, at UAB.

Dickson, who is leading the Bulls in scoring with 16 points a game, thinks they have to sweep UAB and win a game or two in the conference tournament to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

“We’ll see how the remainder of the season goes, but I am very proud what we have accomplished as a team so far,” Dickson said.

The Bulls have already broken one record, so they might as well break another.