USF takes on ECU in the AAC opener (game begins at noon) after a long break. USF is 9-3 on the year after they ended their non-conference slate on a high note by beating Penn State in the last game. ECU comes to Tampa with a 9-2 record and prove to be a very tough test for the Bulls in the start of the conference portion of their schedule.
ECU is led by redshirt junior guard/forward Jada Payne (6’2″) who is averaging 18.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG and has 17 steals and 8 blocks on the year. Payne is a tall wing player that will be tough to battle on the perimeter. Junior forward I’tiana Taylor (6’1″) is averaging 11.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and has 13 blocks and 16 steals. Taylor is a very active player in the paint and will be a key player to watch vs. Alisia Jenkins. Junior guard Jasmine Phillips (5’10”) is averaging 10 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and leads the Pirates with 31 steals (watch for her in this game to try to create offense off a quick turnover). Senior guard Janesha Ebron (5’6″) is averaging 3.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG and leads the Pirates with 47 assist (25 turnovers) and has added 23 steals. Ebron isn’t a major scoring threat, but sets up everyone else around her. Senior center Ondrea Shaw (6’4″) is averaging just 1.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG and leads the team with 38 blocks on the year. Shaw isn’t a big scoring threat, but she is a big time defensive force USF will have to deal with when entering the paint.
ECU is one of the best defensive teams in the country and thrives on steals and shot blocking. USF will be facing a tough test in this game and most eliminate turnovers and make the clutch shots down the stretch. I would look for a very low scoring game between the two sides. It will be up to Courtney Williams and the leaders to the team to come up clutch in the end and hopefully will lead USF to a victory in this game. The Bulls can eliminate mistakes, get the shots to fall, and come away on defense with some stops, they might be able to get the win. Expect a real tough battle from start to finish in this one.