Women's basketball in precarious position

Published February 15, 2005

After dropping two of its past three, Tampa's women's basketball team (8-4) finds itself one game out of first in the Sunshine State Conference and facing must-win situations against Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern, who share first at 10-3.

"We're excited about playing," coach Tom Jessee said. "We're in a situation where we can put ourselves back in the race with our own doing, and that's about all you can ask for with two weeks left in the season. Clearly, the pressure is on Southern. We weren't picked preseason No.1."

Wednesday against Rollins, the Spartans shot 26 percent during the second half to lose 56-47. Forwards Jamie Skinner and Shaneisha Walton combined to shoot 10-of-17, but the rest of the team shot 9-of-41.

Wednesday, Lucresia West , the three-time conference player of the week, will try to help Florida Southern extend its win streak against Tampa to four. She scored 13 in the first matchup, nine below her average, but UT still lost by 11.

"Going back to the first game against Southern, we haven't shot the ball extremely well," Jessee said. "The plan is to just continue to be positive and take shots in the framework of our offense. As for West, it isn't always her. They have four seniors and one of the most veteran teams in the league. It's like looking in the mirror."

The Moccasins enter with the league's No.1 scoring offense (65.6 points per game). Tampa counters with the SSC's No.2 scoring defense, allowing just more than 54 points a game. But UT has allowed more in its past two losses.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: The conference's most bitter rivalry continues, only this meeting between the Spartans and Moccasins has an unfamiliar look. Neither enters with a winning record.

Tampa has won three straight to get to 6-6 and fifth in the conference. FSC has dropped two of three and is 6-7 for sixth.

Reggie Richardson scored 22 on Jan.19 to help the Mocs win the first meeting 79-72. Richardson was one of four starters who scored in double figures.

Tampa's offense has improved since then, scoring at least 80 in three of its past six. Traditionally a defense-oriented program, Tampa is second in the SSC in offense at 78.7 points per game.

Wednesday against Rollins, UT turned in its most dominating conference win of the year, winning by 23. Five Spartans scored in double figures, led by Shane Thorson 's 15. A transfer from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., Thorson made 5 of 5 3-pointers.

BASEBALL: Sergio Perez earned his second win of the season, striking out six in an 8-0 win over Lynn on Sunday. Aaron Cook also earned his second win, pitching the last four innings of a 4-0 win in Game 2 of the doubleheader.

Tampa, who jumped five spots to No.7 in last week's Division II poll, plays three home games this week then a tournament in Montgomery, Ala., starting Feb.25.