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Cats fight through losses

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Despite a current 12-game losing streak, Cincinnati isn't calling it quits with two games remaining before its conference tournament.

 

After winning at South Florida in its second game of league play, UC is in the cellar of the league with one win.

 

The Big East is arguably the best league in the nation with five teams in the AP top-25. 

 

This hasn't kept the Bearcats from fighting, on Tuesday they played with poise and an offensive spark that had been missing in conference action.

 

In the first half freshman Kayla Cook used a pump fake to lose her defender. Bjonee Reaves' man then switched to Cook leaving Reaves with an open 3-pointer that she nailed providing UC with its largest lead of the game 30-11.

 

They took Syracuse (20-7, Big East 8-6) to the wire before falling by two. 

 

"At the end of the day, I'm proud of my team," said Cincinnati head coach Jamelle Elliott. "My team showed me that we are capable of being a good team today. We executed our game plan to a T."

 

This came after Elliott said her team didn't have the talent to compete in the league in a press conference following a loss to Providence on Saturday.

 

The Bearcats shot 47.8 percent from the field and 60 percent from distance in the opening half, in a season littered with poor shooting nights.

 

"I feel like this is a game we're going to build off," Cook said.

 

Shareese Ulis reinforced that this effort could serve as a second wind for her team.

 

"It definitely [gives] us confidence moving forward because this is the team we started off being," Shareese Ulis said. "The games that we played earlier in the season we came out and competed for 40 minutes and we stayed around with teams that were ranked top-5 in the nation."

 

Ulis was referring to the 8-point defeat against No. 4 Xavier on December 12, 2010, as they showed their potential. The Bearcats hit 41.5 percent of their field goals.

 

Ulis also scored at least 20 points on both occasions.

 

This contest marked the second time in six games that UC's leading scorer has hit double digits.

 

"[Ulis] had a little bit of a bounce in her step today," Elliott. "One of the things I told her after the game was 'look it doesn't matter how you play from here on out. The way you played today that's how I'm going to remember you.' That's the image in my head that I'm going to remember the kid by. If she has three or four more games like that in her then that'd be great too. It was great for her at least as her career is closing to have one more of these games in her."

 

It is evident that Ulis hasn't been 100 percent healthy this season. She hasn't participated in practice recently due to sore knees, but clearly UC can match up with quality teams when Ulis develops a rhythm and her team shoots well.

 

One thing that the Bearcats have consistently done this year is fight for every loose ball and maximized their effort.   

 

In one instance Tuesday, Jeanise Randolph hustled for a ball heading out of bounds by diving over the team bench. This squad hardly has the resemblance of team in the midst of a slew of losses.  

 

"At the end of the day I'm proud of my team," Elliott said.

 

The most positive emergence for Cincinnati this year has been freshman Randolph. The rookie netted a combined 31 points in two games prior to Syracuse.

 

The forward is second on the team in rebounding at 5.5 a game and has recorded two double-doubles this campaign. She had a team-high seven rebounds in her last outing versus all-league caliber Kayla Alexander at 14.5 points per game and 7.5 boards. 

 

"I told [Randolph] she was right there," Elliott said indicating she was nearly as good as Alexander. "She's right here. A little better balance, a little more explosiveness, a little better footwork, better extension on her layups. If nothing else she should build off this game. She was able to get shots off against a kid that was four inches taller than her. She's this close. It's just a matter of her going this much further in order to be as good of a player as [Alexander]. And she can be. She has all the potential in the world."

 

Randolph has started the last nine Big East games gaining valuable experience as she strives to be a presence on the low block for the next three years.      

 

UC faces No. 8 Notre Dame tomorrow in South Bend, Ind., at 2 p.m.

 

 

 

 

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