By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2001
TAMPA -- After a miserable season that saw it go 4-23, the women's basketball team opens the Conference USA tournament today in Milwaukee against Cincinnati.
The Bulls, who lost their last four and 15 of their last 16 under first-year coach Jose Fernandez, have just eight players left on the injury-depleted roster.
Coming in as the No. 12 seed, the Bulls face a No. 5 Bearcat team that beat them 66-52 in January. However, if USF has any optimism, it needs only to look back to last season, when it became the first No. 12 seed to win a game and came within a basket of moving into the semifinals.
In other first-round matchups, No. 8 DePaul faces No. 9 Southern Mississippi, No. 6 Memphis plays No. 11 Saint Louis and No. 7 Marquette faces No. 10 Charlotte. Louisville (1), Tulane (2), Houston (3) and Alabama-Birmingham (4) have first-round byes.
TRACK AND FIELD: Behind the efforts of Kerine Black and Jolene Williams, USF successfully defended its C-USA indoor title Feb. 24 in Houston.
Black earned a first place in the 60 meters and second-place finishes in the long jump, triple jump and 200 meters. Williams finished first in the 3,000 in 9 minutes, 45.91 seconds, and she was second in the 5,000 (17:00.5).
Those events gave Williams 18 points. And she helped the Bulls to eight more in the distance medley relay, where USF finished second. Tara Quinn (9:55.73) took third and Rita Arndt (9:58.69) fourth in the 3,000.
Arndt also picked up a third place in the mile with a 4:59.17, and Cori Kill was sixth in the mile (5:06.87).
Also, Black was named co-C-USA Athlete of the Year with Jenny Adams of Houston. USF coach Kelly Phillips was named coach of the year. Phillips was honored as the South Regional Coach of the Year in cross country last fall.