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Bulls look to continue their home dominance

St. John’s (6-12, 2-5) at USF (16-5, 6-2)When: Sat., 5 p.m.Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: Catch 47, 860 AM

Off to its best start in the program’s 35-year history, the women’s basketball team looks to continue home dominance Saturday against St. John’s.

The Bulls are performing impressively in conference play – with a record of 6-2, USF is in a three-way tie with Rutgers and Louisville for third place in the conference tournament.

USF may be without leading rebounder Nalini Miller because of a strained left-hip flexor. The injury forced her to miss the second-half of Tuesday’s game against Georgetown.

“Right now she’s limited in practice,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “We don’t know yet (if she’s going to play). With eight games left, we don’t want to force her and miss her for the rest of the season. Other people have to step up.”

Along with Miller, junior guard Daiane Packer is questionable with a strained left calf.

In Tuesday’s outing against the Hoyas, the Bulls were able to distribute the ball and recorded 25 assists on 29 field goals. Shantia Grace led the way with 10 assists.

After opening the game on a 15-5 run, USF was able to apply its full court pressure and force turnovers to keep Georgetown behind. Against St. John’s, the Bulls will have a tough time duplicating that success.

“St. John’s is a little different because they have a really good point guard in Kia Wright,” Fernandez said. “We’re going to have to change some of the things we do in the full court.”

Wright is coming off her best outing of the season with a win against Villanova with 15 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and seven assists.

Along with Wright, St. John’s has two other players averaging double digits in scoring: Monique McLean (16.8 points) and Tiina Sten (12.7).

“They’re very well balanced and have played well all season,” Fernandez said. “St. John’s has already beaten some good teams … (such as) Pittsburgh and DePaul, and we’re going to have to play our best to win.”

Keep an eye on: forward ChiChi Okpaleke. With Nalini Miller not at full strength, the junior will become the Bulls’ primary option for scoring in the paint and rebounding. During the game against Georgetown, Okpaleke scored 14 points and six rebounds.