USF women lose 85-51 to No. 3 UConn
TAMPA - With a win Saturday, the University of South Florida women's basketball team could have sealed itself an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. But with No. 3 Connecticut in town, it was never going to be easy. The Bulls hung tough with the Huskies for most of the first half, but then it all unraveled as UConn rolled to an 85-51 victory, dropping USF to 19-9 and 8-7 in the Big East. With one regular-season game left — Monday night at Georgetown — coach Jose Fernandez believes the Bulls are precariously perched on the bubble."I've been in this place before where you're 8-8 or 9-7 and on the bubble, and it's not a good place to be for us," Fernandez said. Sitting at No. 58 in the Ratings Percentage Index and with top-25 wins over Louisville and Syracuse, the Bulls should be safe. USF received votes in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll, and a victory over a perennial national-title contender like UConn (27-2, 14-1) would have helped immensely. USF fought back from an early 11-point deficit and trailed 23-20 with 6:19 remaining in the first half. It looked as though the Bulls had a good chance of keeping things close, but UConn took its game to another level and outscored USF 27-11 over the rest of the first half, taking a 50-31 lead into the locker room. "From the seven-minute mark to the 4:30 mark in the first half was huge," Fernandez said. USF shot just 20 percent (6-for-30) from the field in the second half. The Huskies were led by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson, who each posted career highs with 32 and 25 points. Inga Orekhova led the Bulls with 13 points.