After a hard-fought battle, the Bulls lost 84-70 to No. 1 UConn for the third time this season in the AAC championship game Monday night. In USF’s first conference championship game in program history, it never led on the night, trailing by as many as 27 points in the game in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Known for its ground-and-pound presence down low, USF was outmatched against UConn’s powerful forwards Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart. The Bulls were outrebounded 46-20 and failed to establish themselves in the paint throughout the game.
Junior forward Alisia Jenkins could not reach her 25th double-double of the season and ended the game with a conference tournament-low 10 points and four rebounds.
USF guards Shalethia Stringfield and Courtney Williams carried the weight of the matchup, accounting for 36 total points.
Stringfield tied her career high of 20 points and earned a rare starting nod from coach Jose Fernandez. Playing a team known for their scoring efficiency, Fernandez felt that his best scorers had to be on the floor — he considered Stringfield worthy of the call.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma praised USF for its improved play overall, despite the loss.
“They’re a very difficult team to play against,” Auriemma said. “Our players just played a solid three days and came away with the win.”
The Bulls will wait to learn their seeding in the NCAA Tournament until the Selection Show next Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.