I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day. We've all been keeping up to date with the struggles of the men's basketball team and the hot start that Mark Kingston is having with the baseball team, but here's all the latest on a few other USF teams that were in action over the weekend.
Women's Basketball: The Bulls finally received enough votes in the AP Poll this week to clock in at 25th this week (being that low is still pretty silly, but small steps, I suppose). If you haven't been keeping close tabs on Jose Fernandez's squad this year, they've been remarkably good-- entering this weekend they were 20-4 overall with a 10-1 mark in AAC play. Unfortunately, the Bulls' streak of domination of every AAC team not named UConn ended on Sunday with a tight 65-64 loss at East Carolina. It was a really wild game-- the Pirates led by 12 at the half and pushed the lead with 15 points with just over eight minutes to go... and then Courtney Williams went absolutely insane. She scored 19 points in the last seven minutes to get the Bulls within striking distance, and her last minute was a thing of beauty. After draining a three with 33 seconds to go to cut the lead to three points, then stole the ball and made a layup to get within one. Unfortunately, the Bulls sputtered down the stretch and couldn't take advantage of a handful of missed ECU free throws, failing to get a shot off on two potential game-winning possessions. Still, Williams was absolutely brilliant-- she finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and four blocks on the night, and earned a personal shoutout from Mark Harlan.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Not my habit to single out a student-athlete but <a href="https://twitter.com/CourtMWilliams">@CourtMWilliams</a> was tremendous today...amazing young person who is a warrior on the court</p>— Mark Harlan (@MarkHarlanUSF) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkHarlanUSF/status/567086847789375488">February 15, 2015</a></blockquote>
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There's no shame in losing to ECU on the road; they're 17-8 on the season and a perfectly respectable #62 in the RPI, but the loss does put a dent in USF's hopes of playing on their home court in the NCAA tourney. Right now the Bulls are listed as a 7-seed in ESPN's week-old bracketology, and they'd need to move up to around the 4-line to have a shot. It's not impossible, but the Bulls might need to take down UConn at home... which might be impossible.
Regardless, this is the most exciting team on campus right now, and this is as good a time as any to hop on the bandwagon if you haven't yet. Three of the Bulls' remaining five games will be broadcast on an ESPN network, and their biggest game of the season is their finale at home against UConn on March 2. If you can't make it, it'll be on ESPN2. But you should make it.
Softball: When we last checked in with the Bulls' softball team last weekend, they had fallen in valiant performances against ranked foes Michigan and Florida and taken care of business against everyone else. They hosted another tournament at home this weekend and performed reasonably well, going 3-2 to run their record to 6-4 on the young season. The Bulls swept their competition on Friday, beating St. John's 4-2 before trouncing Detroit 8-0 in five innings. Saturday was a different story, as USF couldn't get their bats going against #11 Tennessee, falling 9-1, and then got pounded by Fordham 14-6 later in the day. The Bulls finished the tournament on a positive note with a dominant 11-0 five-inning win over Florida Gulf Coast.
This is a young team (of the team's top eight position players, only two are seniors) that's still finding their footing, and it obviously doesn't help that they don't have a pitcher like Sara Nevins who can consistently win games with only one or two runs of support. If the Bulls want to compete for a College World Series berth, they're going to have to find a way to get their bats going on a consistent basis. There's plenty of time for that to happen.
Men's Golf: Another ranked squad in action! The #23 Bulls golf team opened up their spring season with a fantastic performance in the Gator Invitational in Gainesville. USF faced off against a field of 13 other teams that included #3 Florida State and #6 Vanderbilt... and won. It wasn't even that close-- USF was the only squad to finish under par (-5), and were eight strokes ahead of second-place Arkansas. You can't script a much better start than that. Freshman Claudio Correa won the individual title (and made a hole-in-one. Hooray for hole-in-ones!), while junior Chase Koepka finished in a tie for fourth overall. These guys have the makings of a really, really good team, so keep an eye out.