Analyzing the morning of and after the Bulls’ game

Coach Jose Fernandez, what are your thoughts about the women’s basketball team’s biggest game in school history?

Fernandez was not available for comment.

All right, I can understand.

When freshman guard Shantia Grace’s final shot at the buzzer fell short to give USC the 67-65 victory, USF students were still in recovery mode, cursing the end of the great scheduling quirk that is spring break.

By the time the Bulls failed to make USF basketball history by winning the school’s first NCAA Tournament game, it was 11:46 p.m. and 80 percent of the East Coast was asleep.

When the Bulls made their way to the locker room, people around the country had already had their fill of basketball with the men’s NCAA Tournament, and many people – myself included – found themselves tearing up their brackets late Sunday, suffering from a basketball hangover.

Even first-team Big East player Jessica Dickson looked affected Sunday night.

Dickson struggled from the field, and when the Bulls needed baskets the most, it was Grace, not Dickson, who wasn’t sleepwalking in the end.

I can’t blame Dickson. There were the emotional highs of USF making the program’s first tournament, riding in a chartered jet and writing a running Web log about the experience, all of which contrasted with the late tip-off time of 9:46 p.m. and the lack of people who stuck around to see the historic moment.

The attendance may have been an announced 4,466, but that’s not what the television screen showed when Dickson dove after a ball and the camera panned into the stands to show thousands of empty seats.

It wasn’t prime time.

It was a first-round game in a women’s basketball tournament in Norfolk, Va., played at the Constant Center – Old Dominion University’s home arena.

The biggest game in women’s basketball history was exactly like the post-game highlight show’s sponsor, Diet Mountain Dew: known by few, enjoyed by even fewer.

It may have been a steppingstone for the women’s team – a great moment in USF basketball history or a sign of things to come. Maybe people will look back on this game and say this is where USF women’s basketball got its start.

But for now, today, as the women’s team gets back on its chartered flight, sleepily returning to Tampa, one can only imagine the women’s very first NCAA game will be a night – or morning – not to remember.