Tampa, FL - The University of South Florida women’s basketball team, the reigning Women’s National Invitation Tournament champions, received six votes in the recent preseason ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll.
The Bulls are one of nine teams from the BIG EAST Conference to either be ranked in the Top 25 or to be receiving votes. Five conference members are ranked in the Top 25 led by defending National Champion Connecticut who was a unanimous No. 1 selection. Notre Dame is No. 7 while Louisville rounds out the top 20 slotted in at the No. 19 spot. Pittsburgh is ranked No. 22 and DePaul just squeaked in at No. 25.
In addition to USF, Rutgers (106), Syracuse (6), Georgetown (2) and West Virginia (1) all received Top 25 votes.
Last season, the Bulls posted a 27-10 record – the best in school history – and an 8-8 eighth place finish in the BIG EAST Conference. USF finished the year winning five consecutive games en route to the WNIT postseason title – including three consecutive on the road. After a first round bye, the Bulls took care of Florida Gulf Coast (88-81 in overtime) on March 21 and Mississippi (74-57) on March 26, both coming at home. USF then hit the road, for 10 straight days, to defeat St. Bonaventure (80-66) on March 29, Boston College (82-65) on April 1 and Kansas (75-71) on April 4 in the title game.
The championship game with the Jayhawks was played in front of a USF, Kansas and Big 12 women’s basketball record crowd of 16,113 at historic Phog Allen Fieldhouse. It was also the eighth largest crowd to see a women’s basketball game in Division I last season.
The Bulls return two of its top four scorers from last year’s team in Janae Stokes and Jessica Lawson.
Stokes was second on the team in scoring averaging 12.6 points per game and was one of the top three-point shooters in America hitting 39.7 percent (116-292) of her shots from behind the arc, ranking her 37th in the nation.
Lawson finished the year fourth on the team in scoring netting 10.6 points per contest, and was tied for second in rebounding grabbing 6.7 per game. In addition, the sixth-year senior shot 55.9 percent (151-270) from the field on the year which was good enough for fifth in the BIG EAST.
USF will kick its season off on Nov. 13 against Florida A&M. On that night, the Bulls will also raise their WNIT Championship banner.