The USF women’s basketball team will head home after its brief stint on the road that featured both a disappointing loss and an overwhelming victory as the Bulls (13-5, 2-3) tip off with Marquette on Saturday at 6 p.m.
While the Golden Eagles (10-8, 2-3) aren’t threatening on paper, given that they sit below the top five positions in nearly every statistic in the conference, they will likely be playing with a lot of emotion on the court this weekend.
In the teams’ last meeting, Marquette fell to USF on its home court on Valentine’s Day last season.
After the 61-48 loss to the Bulls, it’s clear that the Golden Eagles will show no love on the hardwood this time around.
When USF last faced Marquette at the Sun Dome, the year before to the Valentines Day beat down, it was the Golden Eagles who came out on top, 61-55.
The Bulls will enter this weekend’s game coming off of a big road win over Seton Hall, after fixing its mistakes from the close loss to Villanova last Saturday.
Against Villanova, the Bulls shot barely over 26 percent from the field, scored only 33 percent from beyond the arch and were below average from the free throw line.
USF also failed to finish out against Villanova in the second half in a game that came down to just three points.
Something needed to be changed, and after that night and it looks like a fix was found.
But is it a temporary fix?
After the win over Seton Hall, USF will look to get the ball rolling in the Big East as they face two straight home games.
Offensively, the Bulls’ strong points in shooting in conferenceplay have been from the free throw line and the deep three-ball.
This was apparent from the first game of conference play against the current No. 1 team in the Big East, Notre Dame.
In the Bull’s overtime loss at home to the Irish, USF shot 50 percent in threes and 85 percent from the line. USF has stayed on this trend for the most part.
The three-point range has been where Bulls like to play their best basketball, ranking third in the Big East, going 36.8 percent from long-distance.
Where USF seems to enjoy its shooting, Marquette seems to have trouble defending. The Golden Eagles have struggled defending the deep ball, sitting as the third lowest ranked
team in the Big East allowing teams to shoot 36.9 percent in three-pointers during conference play.
Aside from shooting beyond the arch, the Bulls experienced a lot of success, in shooting, from the free throw line shooting81 percent in the Big East, ranking at No. 2.
Fans are likely to see USF play in their comfort zone, sticking with threes, due to the lack of success from the field as they have been shooting only 35 percent to Marquette’s 41 percent.
The Bulls defense has played solid throughout conference play, ranking at No. 5 in the conference, but USF will be
facing a lot of size on the court, which could hurt USF.
Apart from two players listed at 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-9, the rest of the Golden Eagles range from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-5.
USF’s two biggest scoring threats this season, in senior guards Andrea and Andrell Smith are listed at 5-foot-8. Ten of the Bulls’ 16 players range from 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9, leaving the other six above six feet.
The size of Marquette may also keep the Bulls out of the paint, forcing USF to shoot from deep and could make it more difficult to crash the boards for USF freshman forward Alisia Jenkins who is second in the conference in rebound with 9.8 per game.
A win for USF this Saturday would mean a two-game win streak and while that may sound small it could prove to be huge for a Bulls team that hasn’t been on a streak in conference play all season. Marquette will try to gain the edge over USF in hopes of traveling back home for two games with a win in Tampa.
After facing Marquette, USF will continue its stay at home as the Bulls also face Louisville in the Sun Dome on Jan. 30.