The USF women's basketball team is set to get back to work as they take on 12th ranked Louisville tonight at 7PM. USF, 14-5 (3-3) is coming off of a strong 58 to 48 win over Marquette in the last outing where Andrell Smith had 11 points, Inga Orekhova had 15 points, and Courtney Williams had 10 points coming off of the bench. However, the Cardinals, 17-4 (5-2) will prove to be a huge challenge for Coach Fernandez and his team.
The Cardinals, who are just 4-3 this season on the road, have a balanced team that can score from anywhere on the court. Louisville is led by junior guard Shoni Schimmel (5'9") who is averaging 12.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, and leads the team with 40 steals. While she is the assist leader for the Cards, she also averages 3.3 turnovers a game. This will be something to watch as the aggressive tempo and play of the USF backcourt will try to harass and force bad passes from her the entire night. Sophomore forward Sara Hammond (6'2") averages 10.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and has 30 steals on the year. Junior guard Antonita Slaughter (6'1") averages 9.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG. Senior forward Monique Reid (6'1") averages 10.4 PPG and 4.1 RPG coming off of the bench, adding another weapon for the Bulls to contend with inside the paint.
There will be two major keys to this game. One will be to slow down Schimmel. She is an elite scorer that also runs the Cardinal offense. If USF can slow her down and take away the passing lanes, it will slow the Cardinal offense down. The other key for the Bulls will be the play of the Smith sisters. Andrell and Andrea, when they are hitting their shots, help propel the offense, but when they struggle the Bulls stall out. Andrea, who is taking fewer shots recently, will need to continue to take high percentage shots and open up the offense for the other shooters such as Orekhova and Williams. This will help spread out the offense and attack Louisville from different angles.
This is a very important game for the Bulls. A win against a highly ranked team would put the Bulls over .500 in league play and help give them momentum before playing the next two games on the road at Pitt and then at Providence. (Note that it is military appreciation night for this game. Military members can show their ID at the ticket counter and will receive two free tickets to the game)