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USF Women's Basketball Opens Big East Play Against #2 Notre Dame

The Bulls start off 2013 with a major opportunity as second-ranked Notre Dame visits the Sun Dome on Tuesday night.

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Last Monday, USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez notched his 200th win, beating Detroit Mercy 74-60. In that game, Inga Orekhova set a career high with 25 points and freshman forward Alisia Jenkins notched her first career double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) as USF improved their overall record to 11-2 on the season. Now the ladies begin their Big East schedule and one of the powerhouses of the conference, Notre Dame, is coming to town right off the top.

The Fighting Irish are ranked #2 in the country in this week's polls. They're 12-0 on the season and come into the game fresh off a 73-72 road win over previously top-ranked UConn. The Irish have four players in double figures, and their loaded offense will challenge the Bulls in all phases of the game. They're led by star point guard Skylar Diggins, who averages nearly 15 points and six assists per game. Junior guard Kayla McBride averages 15.7 points a game and poured in a career-high 21 against UConn on Saturday. They're led down low by 6'3" junior forward Natalie Achonwa, who scored 14.1 points and grabs 9.4 rebounds per game.

For USF to have a chance, they will need their big three stars to carry the load on offense. Andrell Smith (17.1 PPG), her twin sister Andrea Smith (16.5 PPG), and Inga Orekhova (11.9 PPG) are the major offensive weapons for Coach Fernandez. All of them will need to be at their best in this game, taking high percentage shots and controlling the tempo of the game. USF will have to control the tempo and rebound the ball, not allowing the Irish to take the early lead. This should be a fun game to watch.