Behind what has become standard brilliance from Courtney Williams and Alisia Jenkins, USF Women's Basketball advanced to the AAC tournament championship game with a 78-69 win over the Tulane Green Wave on Sunday at Mohegan Sun.
The Bulls dynamic duo combined to shoot 17-28 from the floor for 43 points and 19 rebounds, and both played the entire 40 minutes available. This was a closer game than the two previously played between both teams this season: USF won by 21 in New Orleans and 13 in Tampa earlier this season. Tulane's Danielle Blagg came off the bench for 19 points, and the Green Wave committed only seven turnovers.
The game was tied at 63 with under four minutes left, but a dagger Williams three-pointer as the shot clock expired seemed to shift the momentum. A Blagg miss & a Williams layup would give the Bulls a five point lead that would hold through several unrealized possessions for both teams.
That lead would then double with 1:01 to play as Jenkins hit a driving layup that drew a blocking foul, and Tulane coach Lisa Stockton got called for a technical foul protesting the whistle. Shalethia Stringfield would knock down the two extra free throws, and Jenkins converted the balance of her three-point play to put USF in front by double digits after a five-point possession.
With the win, USF will take on #1 UConn for the second consecutive Monday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN. It will be the first appearance in a conference tournament final in the 33 years of USF women's basketball being eligible for Division I postseason play. It is only the third conference tournament final for USF basketball overall, joining the men's teams that played for Sun Belt titles in 1983 & 1990.
Defeating a juggernaut that has won its two previous tournament games by an average score of 99.5-45 on their de facto home floor is a tall order, but this will be an important eye test game for USF in front of the NCAA Selection Committee. The Bulls fell by 42 in Storrs earlier this season, and by 23 at the Sun Dome six days ago. Some improvement on that spread might help move the Bulls off the projected 7 seed ESPN's Charlie Creme currently has for USF come Selection Monday, March 16th.