USF Women’s basketball team plays its first No. 1 team

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIMEUSF (11-8, 1-5) at Connecticut (19-0, 6-0)When: Tonight, 7Where: Hartford, Conn.TV/Radio: CPTV, 1010 AM

The highest-ranked opponent the South Florida women’s basketball team (11-8, 1-5) has ever faced was then-No. 2 Connecticut in 2002, when the Bulls lost 72-56. It was the first time USF played the Huskies.

The Bulls will travel to Hartford, Conn., tonight to play the Huskies in the teams’ sixth meeting, but this time Connecticut (19-0, 6-0) will be ranked No. 1 as USF looks to fight its way out of the bottom half of the Big East.

Currently, the Bulls are 14th in the conference. If they can get into the top 12 by the end of the season, they will make their third Big East tournament in a row.

“We have to play hard. We have to keep our heads up,” USF junior guard Shantia Grace said about what it is going to take to make the tournament. She said the team needs to practice hard every night and play together.

USF had a chance to move up four spots in the conference Saturday when it faced Marquette (11-8, 3-3). The game was lopsided as the Eagles defeated the Bulls 79-66. Grace, the Bulls’ leading scorer, didn’t play much because of foul trouble and eventually fouled out.

USF is now 1-14 against Marquette, which is one win more than its record against Connecticut, 0-5.

After Saturday’s game, USF coach Jose Fernandez said, “(The loss) doesn’t help any now that we have to go on the road and play the No. 1 team.”

The Huskies are coming off of an 81-64 win over No. 20 Notre Dame (15-5, 3-3).

In that contest, four players from Connecticut scored in double digits. They have four players averaging over 10 points a game on the season. South Florida has two players averaging double figures – Grace and junior center Jessica Lawson.

Lawson has been hampered with a knee injury the past couple of games. She is listed to play.

In Connecticut’s last six games, they have defeated four ranked teams, including No. 3 North Carolina, 82-71.

South Florida has yet to defeat a ranked team this year. They lost to No. 12 West Virginia 79-73 and No. 22 Syracuse 67-60.

The last time the Bulls defeated a ranked team was in 2007, when they beat No. 15 Louisville 74-58. Four players scored double figures in that game.

In 2004, USF guard Anedra Gilmore hit a three-pointer with 22 seconds left on the clock to go into overtime with the then-ranked No. 8 Huskies. The biggest lead the Bulls had in the game was 11 points, but they eventually lost 75-65.