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Women: USF sets its sights on reaching, hosting WNIT

PETE YOUNG
Published March 2, 2004

TAMPA - A late-season surge has positioned the South Florida women's team for its first postseason appearance in 26 years and first of the "modern" era.

The school is planning to host a first-round WNIT game if it earns a bid. It would be the first postseason USF game at the Sun Dome in 13 years. The WNIT field will be announced March 14, shortly after the NCAA Tournament is announced, and first-round games are slated for March 17-20.

"We would prefer to host, and (the WNIT) knows we're interested in that," said associate athletic director Barry Clements, who said USF will provide the $6,000 financial guarantee to host a first-round game. "We've made them aware of our team's (winning streak) at the end of the season, and we're very much on their watch list."

The Bulls have won six of seven and four straight entering the Conference USA tournament. No.8 seeded USF (14-13, 7-7 C-USA) faces No.9 Cincinnati (14-14, 5-9) on Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, in the first round.

Teams must be .500 or better to qualify for the WNIT, and recent history says USF, which has an RPI of No.81, is on the bubble. Three C-USA teams had comparable records and RPI ratings last season, and two, Saint Louis and Marquette, qualified for the WNIT.

USF has been led by Jessica Dickson (18.7 points a game), the nation's highest-scoring freshman. The Bulls are the lone C-USA team never to have played in the postseason.

USF's only postseason appearance predates the NCAA Tournament and WNIT. In 1978 the Bulls won the Florida AIAW title and lost in the Region III AIAW tournament to Fort Valley State. The USF men last hosted a postseason game in 1991, when they lost an opening-round NIT game to Fordham.

Monday's games

NO.3 DUKE 90, N.C. STATE 57: Reserve Brittany Hunter had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Alana Beard scored 22 for the visiting Blue Devils (24-3, 15-1 ACC).

FLA. SOUTHERN 95, SAINT LEO 72: The Mocs rallied from a 15-point deficit to roll over the Lions (1-26, 1-13 Sunshine State Conference). September Harrison and Rosetta Little led the Lions with 21 points each.

Win streak ends at 135

LIBERAL, Kan. - The longest women's home winning streak - 135 games - ended when Seward County Community College lost 64-50 to Hutchinson Community College.

Seward County's streak started in 1995 and ended with Saturday's regular-season finale.

The Saints were two home victories short of the overall college record, set by the two-year College of Southern Idaho. That streak ended in 1992.

Southern Nazarene holds the longest women's winning streak (122 games, 1989-98) for a four-year school. Kentucky's 129 straight home wins, 1943-55, stands as the record for a four-year men's team.

EASTERN ILLINOIS: Coach Linda Wunder, who had a 36-101 record in five seasons, including 8-19 this season, was fired.

- Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.

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