Bulls battle for Big East berth

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAME TIMEUSF (13-12, 3-9) at Georgetown (13-12, 3-9)When: Saturday, 3 p.m.Where: McDonough ArenaTV/Radio: 1010 AM

Easy wins do not exist in the Big East Conference.

“We play in the toughest conference in the nation,” South Florida women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez said.

USF needs to take advantage of its Saturday game against Georgetown – the easiest game left on its schedule – because afterwards, they will face three formidable opponents to finish the season.

The matchup with Georgetown (13-12, 3-9) puts the Bulls (13-12, 3-9) in a difficult position, since both teams are on the cusp of qualifying for the Big East tournament, which puts the top 12 teams in the conference in a competition to play for a championship. The Hoyas rank 13th in the Big East; the Bulls rank 14th.

“Saturday is probably the biggest game of the season,” Fernandez said. “Saturday is our season, because then we go on the road to Notre Dame. We’ve got Pittsburgh on Tuesday. And, then you’ve got to turn around and fly to Milwaukee on Sunday to play (Marquette) on Monday night.”

Two of the final three teams facing the Bulls are ranked nationally – Pittsburgh (18-7, 8-4) is ranked 21st while Notre Dame (20-6, 8-4) is ranked 14th. The final game will come against Marquette (14-12, 6-7), who beat the Bulls 79-66 earlier this season.

The Bulls’ all-time record against Marquette is 1-13, but USF has been successful against Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. Against Pittsburgh, the Bulls are 4-0 all-time, and they’ve won three of five games against Notre Dame.

The Bulls have never lost to Georgetown, holding a 3-0 all-time record.

Georgetown plays host to USF after consecutive losses to Louisville, DePaul and No. 1 Connecticut. The Bulls have won two of their last four games – one against Villanova (15-11, 5-8) and the other against then-No. 25 DePaul. One of the two losses came against Cincinnati – last place in the Big East – and the other against No. 4 Rutgers (21-4, 11-1).

The last game the Bulls played was against Villanova (15-11, 5-8), which they had their biggest come-from-behind victory of the season. The win ended a two-game losing streak. The Bulls were down by 15 points early into the game, but came back to win 77-66.

If the Bulls beat Georgetown and Seton Hall loses, then USF will sit in the 12th spot going into its final three-game stretch.