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USF heads to Syracuse with momentum

After finally getting their first win of 2011 and their first Big East victory this season, the USF women will look for their second conference victory when they travel to take on the Orange at Syracuse Saturday.

The Bulls (10-11, 1-6) have defeated Syracuse in five of the teams’ six meetings, including both match-ups at the Carrier Dome, but the outcome of this weekend’s game is anything but certain.

The Orange, who come into the game ranked 9th in the Big East, will be a tough challenge for the Bulls, who are ranked 13th in the 16-team league.

“We’re going to have to shoot the ball well. They’re very athletic, they rebound the ball well and they score a lot of their points in the paint,” coach Jose Fernandez said.

Syracuse (15-4, 3-3) is coming off a 69-60 victory over Pittsburgh at home Wednesday.

“We can’t go one for 10 from 3-point range like we did (Tuesday) night,” Fernandez said. “We’re gonna have to knock down shots. The good news is we have three days … to get ready for them.”

USF was able to hold off Seton Hall Tuesday at the Sun Dome to win 68-64. Gaining their first Big East victory, the Bulls’ win also broke their seven-game losing streak – their longest since the 2002-03 season when they lost 10 straight.

“You would hope that a game like that can catapult you and get some positive energy behind you,” Fernandez said. “Especially with nine games left.

Tipoff is at 1 p.m. in Syracuse.

Struggling with injuries

The women got their first Big East win against Seton Hall Tuesday, despite missing two of their players.

Senior forward Leondra Doomes-Stephens, who has started 16 of 21 games for the Bulls, sat out the game against the Pirates due to an illness.

“Getting a win after being pretty beat up and battered was a positive,” Fernandez said. “We’re kinda beat up right now, with Leondra Doomes-Stephens, that didn’t play last night, going through the flu.”

She is questionable for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.

In addition, sophomore guard Kaneisha Saunders is out of action due to a lingering groin injury.

“She’s day-to-day right now,” Fernandez said. “We’ll just keep her on the shelf until she’s 100 percent.”