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USF hosts St. Johns Red Storm, needs win

To avoid ending the season with a losing record, the USF women’s basketball team must win all five of its remaining regular-season games, starting at home against St. John’s tonight.

The Bulls fell just short of that goal last season, finishing 15-16 overall and winning just six Big East games. So far this season, USF (10-15, 1-10) has won just one conference game, a 68-64 victory over Seton Hall at home Jan. 25.

Though all 16 conference teams qualify for the Big East tournament, which begins March 4 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., USF can still improve its seeding by picking up wins before the regular season finishes.

St. John’s leads the all-time series against USF 3-2, but USF is 2-0 at the Sun Dome.

The Red Storm (17-7, 6-5) is coming off an impressive 75-71 overtime win against No. 16 Georgetown, which ended the Hoyas’ six-game winning streak. St. John’s pulled away early in the game and led by as many as 11 points before the Hoyas rallied to trim the deficit to six before halftime.

USF visited Georgetown on Feb. 8, getting blown out by 29 points. The Hoyas’ defense held USF to just 38 points in the game.

The Red Storm, ranked No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, should prove to be a stiff challenge for the Bulls, who sit at 13th in the Big East standings.

USF is coming off a tough loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Having led by as many as 11 points in the second half, the Bulls allowed Pitt to fight back and take the lead for good with three minutes remaining.

Trying to break their four-game losing streak, the Bulls will look for leading scorer Andrea Smith to return to her usual role as the team’s primary offensive threat. The junior, who’s averaging 16.6 points per game this season, managed only 10 against the Panthers.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Sun Dome, and the game will be broadcast on 1010 AM CBS Sports Radio.