USF hosts Red Storm

It isn’t a must-win for the South Florida women’s basketball team, but losing Saturday night’s game, when the Bulls (13-3, 0-2) host St. John’s University at 7, would make three straight losses against Big East opponents.

Coming off an 83-37 loss to Connecticut on Tuesday night, Coach Jose Fernandez said he’s trying to get his team to focus on the Red Storm.

“You can’t talk about Connecticut for the next three days because you’ve got St. John’s coming in — and then Louisville, and then Pittsburgh, too,” he said. “We’ve got to put it behind us and win the
next one.”

Fernandez said he saw encouraging performances from three players, and that they will be important in moving the team forward.

“I thought those three guys really showed up,” Fernandez said of senior center Brittany Denson, junior forward Porche Grant and freshman guard Jasmine Wynne.

Grant leads the team in rebounding, averaging eight per game. She said, however,  that Tuesday’s loss will be tough to forget.

“The next time we need to play hard — every possession,” she said. “Just because a team goes on a run doesn’t mean that we should just give up and continue to allow them to go on a run, because when you don’t fight back it only makes it that much worse.”

The Red Storm (13-1, 1-0) lead the conference in three-point defense, holding their opponents to 23.7 percent per game.

USF, the second-best scoring offense in the country, is in the midst of a three-game home stretch.

Fernandez said he’s hoping to use that to his advantage.

“The good thing is that we’ve got the next two at home,” he said.

For the 4,290 who showed up Tuesday, however, he said he wouldn’t blame students for being upset with how the team played.

“If you’re a student, you’ve never been to a women’s basketball game before, and you come out and watch (USF) get beat by 50, well, I don’t think that’s great advertising,” he said.