Bulls go on to AAC championship

Courtney Williams scored 13 of her 21 points in the second half as USF defeated Tulane, 78-69.  ORACLE FILE PHOTO/

After defeating Tulane 78-69 Sunday in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament, the USF women’s basketball team will head to the AAC Championship game to face No. 1 UConn for the third time this season. 

Tulane (22-9, 11-7) stood in USF’s way of a rematch with UConn, as the two teams faced off Sunday in the second round of the AAC Tournament. The Bulls swept the season series against Tulane by 16 points a game, but could not find an advantage in the first half this time, clinging to only a five-point lead at the half. Junior guard Courtney Williams returned as a force in the second half, scoring 13 points in the final 20 minutes and 21 on the night. 

Junior forward Alisia Jenkins pulled off yet another double-double, her 24th of the year, with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Jenkins was almost perfect from the floor, shooting 9-of-13 with two assists and a steal. 

The Bulls were challenged for over 39 minutes until a foul on Williams set up game-clinching free throws by putting the game out of Tulane’s reach. When the dust cleared, USF won the physical battle and the game.

The Green Wave shot 38 percent and created open looks all game, but still came up short on almost 40 shots. This, coupled with 8-of-24 shooting from three-point range, doomed the Green Wave.

The Bulls (26-6, 15-3) played their final home game of the regular season against UConn (31-1, 18-0) March 2 at the Sun Dome, suffering an 88-65 loss. In the regular season series, the Huskies pummeled the Bulls by an average of 33 points per game. 

Following their final home stand, USF headed to Uncasville, Connecticut for the AAC Tournament. After finishing the regular season as the second seeded team in the conference, USF received a first-round bye. 

Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Memphis (14-17, 7-11) ended in a 79-51 victory for the Bulls. Williams played only 20 minutes, contributing just six points and two rebounds. USF’s 23-point halftime lead was due to Jenkins, who dominated with 23 points and 14 total rebounds. 

USF will face No. 1 UConn tonight in the AAC Championship at 7 p.m. on ESPN, with the night’s winner securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.