Coach miffed despite Bulls' upset

A poorly attended game sours an otherwise impressive victory.

Published January 17, 2007

TAMPA - His team had pulled off the most convincing upset in the program's history, an impressive 74-58 win against No. 15 Louisville, but what struck Bulls coach Jose Fernandez most Tuesday night was the sparse Sun Dome crowd, generously announced at 845.

"It astounds me that we've got a basketball team that's gone to two NITs, NCAA Tournament, 14-4, (4-1) in the league, and you've got (expletive) 800 people in the stands," Fernandez said. "I don't understand it. It's absolutely ridiculous. On a Tuesday night, what else is going on? Was there a football game? A hockey game? What is it American Idol? That's why we didn't get many people. Maybe we should do American Idol tryouts at halftime."

The Bulls won despite a scoreless second half from senior Jessica Dickson, who had 15 in leading the Bulls to a 13-point halftime lead. Her supporting cast more than stepped up, helping USF to its second impressive win in four days, following an overtime victory Saturday against Notre Dame. The Bulls soon may find themselves ranked for the first time.

"I think they deserve to be in the Top 25," Cardinals coach Tom Collen said.

USF (14-4, 4-1 Big East) got a pair of double doubles, with guard Shantia Grace getting a team-best 20 points and a season-high 11 assists. Center Nalini Miller had 12 points and matched a season high with 16 rebounds.

"We've been playing as a team. We haven't put this on one person's shoulders," Miller said.

Louisville (17-2, 3-2) got 21 points and 11 rebounds from Angel McCoughtry, the conference leader in both categories coming into the game. The only higher-ranked opponent the Bulls have beaten in their history was a double-overtime win against No. 11 DePaul last season.

Fernandez still wasn't happy with the crowd, only slightly higher than the season average of 760, which ranks 10th out of 16 Big East teams.

"We've got multimillion-dollar scoreboards and they don't work," said Fernandez, bothered by four long delays due to the scoreboards. "That's another thing I don't understand. Oh well. We just have to continue to roll on through. Everybody will become a fan when we go to the NCAA Tournament."

NO. 18 BOWLING GREEN 64, MIAMI, OHIO 56: Ali Mann scored 18 to lead the host Falcons (15-2, 5-0 MAC).

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3346.