USF tries to end losing streak

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIMEProvidence (10-5, 0-2) at USF (10-6, 0-3)When: Tonight, 7Where: Sun DomeTV/Radio: 1010 AM

Losing games can have a major effect on a team’s psyche. The USF women’s basketball team will look to end a four-game losing streak tonight, when it takes on the Providence Friars.

The Bulls (10-6, 0-3) and the Friars (10-5, 0-2) are two teams looking to get their first conference win. Coming off this losing streak, USF coach Jose Fernandez feels like his team needs to keep its head up.

“We’ve lost four tough games in a row,” Fernandez said. “In our three conference losses, we’ve had opportunities to win. We just need to go out there and get it done.”

The Bulls have been plagued by turnovers and poor shooting in their most recent games.

USF is shooting a dismal 39 percent as a team from the field this season, ranking 15th out of the 16 Big East teams.

“We need to start shooting better. It’s as simple as that,” Fernandez said. “We’re shooting 28, 29 percent per clip. We’re not going to beat many teams shooting like that.”

Shooting from the field is poor, but shooting from the free-throw line has hurt the Bulls as well.

USF is shooting just under 64 percent as a team from the free-throw line. The Bulls rank 12th in the Big East in the category.

The Bulls have also been giving the ball away far too often. USF is turning the ball over 16 times per game. Once again, that ranks the Bulls near the bottom of the Big East conference.

All of these things have led to USF starting 0-3 in the conference. Fernandez realizes the effect that this has had on the team.

“Nobody likes to lose. It’s something that can really start to take a toll on you,” Fernandez said. “We just need to get back in the gym. We just need to prepare better and work hard.”

Even though USF has had a tough time winning as of late, the Bulls do have some bright spots that could help them get back into contention for the Big East Tournament.

Junior guard Shantia Grace continues to lead the Bulls in scoring. Her 17.9 points per game has her ranked fifth in the conference in points per game.

Brittany Denson – who is coming off of a 10 point, 13 rebound performance against Syracuse – is likely to see more playing time with starting center Jessica Lawson still feeling the effects of a nagging hamstring injury.

“Denson has played well for us the last two games,” Fernandez said. “I really liked what I saw out of her and (sophomore forward Porche) Grant on Saturday.”

The Bulls will need every bright spot to shine in order to defeat the Friars. Even though Providence is 0-2 in the Big East, it is a team that plays well away from home. The Friars are 5-1 on the road this season.

“Providence is a very good team,” Fernandez said. “We definitely have to shoot well and rebound well if we’re going to have a chance.”

Fernandez feels like the time is now for USF to end its losing streak.

“If there is anywhere you should play well, and play with confidence, it’s on your home floor,” Fernandez said. “Hopefully, we can do that against Providence.”