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USF battles the Blue Devils at the St Pete Times Forum

The USF women’s basketball team will play what is arguably its biggest game of the season tonight against the No. 10 Duke University Blue Devils. The game – which is part of the ESPNU Invitational – will take place at the St. Petersburg Times Forum at 7 p.m.

The ESPNU Invitational is a double-header featuring some of the best teams in the country, and both games will be shown to a national audience on ESPNU. In the first game USF is taking on Duke. The second game of the double-dip features the defending NCAA Champion Tennessee Lady Vols playing the Oklahoma Sooners in another non-conference match-up.

The Bulls (1-0) are coming off of an 84-49 victory over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. The Bulls were led by guard Jazmine Sepulveda and center Jessica Lawson, who each scored 16 points to tie for the game’s high.

For the Bulls, the game against the Blue Devils will be a real test. The No. 10-ranked team in the nation is coming off a 30-0 regular season, and a 32-2 record overall.

“I definitely think that it’s good to go in as the underdog, because nobody expects anything from the underdog,” center Jessica Lawson said. “A lot of people don’t know who we are, and we have a lot of new faces. I feel that going into the game, they need to be ready for us.”

The Bulls players lack no confidence going into the game tonight against a tough, non-conference opponent.

“We feel like we belong out there with anybody,” shooting guard Shantia Grace said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Duke, Tennessee or whoever they are. We’re going to come in prepared, knowing that we can win the game.”

However, head coach Jose Fernandez realizes that being on the court with a national powerhouse is not all that matters.

“We position the kids to play high-profile games every year,” Fernandez said. “However, there’s a difference between playing high-profile teams and beating high-profile teams. Everything is about opportunity, and I think we are going to have a great opportunity (tonight).”