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Bearcats Return Home to Pink Zone

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If you had told me this time last week the Bearcats would return home from their two-game road swing 1-1, I probably would have been ok with that.  However, after the 'Cats thrilling win on Saturday at Syracuse, the loss Tuesday night at Providence was certainly disappointing.  Winning on the road in the BIG EAST isn't easy, but after knocking off the Orange in OT, Cincinnati was primed to pick off the Friars and continue to show progress.  Instead a tough second half, led to a 15 point loss at Alumni Hall. 

PinkRibbon.jpgNow Jamelle Elliott's troops will look to bounce-back Saturday when they welcome Villanova for the first of three consecutive home games.  The game is the Bearcats "Think Pink" game (3rd in-a-row) and fans are encouraged to wear pink as part of the support for Breast Cancer Research.  The Bearcats will be wearing special uniforms for the game.  They are primarily white, white pink trim.  I saw them last week and they are sharp. 

If you need to know one thing about Harry Perretta and the Villanova Wildcats, it is this: they live and die by the three.  The Wildcats have shot 655 three's this season.  That is more than half of their 1292 shots.  They shoot only 29.0% from beyond the arc and that is a big part of the reason they are 1-11 in the BIG EAST this season.  But don't take the Wildcats for granted.  When they get hot, they are a dangerous (and well coached) team.  Don't believe me?  Ask Syracuse, 'Nova got them for 13 three's back on February 9th, the Wildcats only conference win.

If  you get FOX Sports Ohio, make sure you watch Bearcats Sports Weekly w/Mick Cronin, Jamelle Elliott tonight (Thursday) at 6:00 p.m..  Jamelle fills in for Mick and does a great job as my co-pilot.  We also feature senior Michelle Jones, who scored her 1,000th career point at Providence.  If you missed it, click here to watch online

Hope to see you Saturday at Fifth Third Arena, if you are coming out, remember to wear pink.  If not, you can watch the game live at 2:00 p.m. CLICK HERE TO WATCH

 

Road Warriors

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Wow.  If you missed the Bearcats game at Syracuse yesterday you missed a lot.  Jamelle Elliott's Bearcats led at the end of the first half 28-21.  They then lead by 13 in the second half, only to watch the Orange battle from behind, tie the game and take a 5 point lead with 37 seconds remaining.  Down 5, the Bearcats drove the lane, got a bucket from Michelle Jones, who also drew the foul, but missed the free throw.  Needing a little help, Syracuse missed the front-end of a one-and-one and the Bearcats were able to use their final timeout to draw up a play for a potential game-tying 3.  With Shareese Ulis the hot hand, I figured the ball was going to her or veteran Kahla Roudebush.  The staff drew-up the perfect play, the 'Cats executed it to perfection and with six seconds remaining, Ulis launched a 3 from the right wing that clunked off the back of the rim and appeared the sink the Bearcats hopes of a road victory.  Just when all hope was lost, sophomore Val Schuster corralled the lose basketball, drew a foul and got the Bearcats the ball on the baseline with a hair over 4 seconds remaining. 

That's when things got interesting.  Syracuse called timeout (remember UC had no timeouts remaining at this point.)  With a three point lead and very little time remaining, you would assume the Orange may foul and not even give the Bearcats a chance to tie the game.  That didn't happen.  Instead the Orange played great defense on the baseline and the Bearcats got the ball back to Ulis who stepped back from 30-feet and drained a huge 3 to tie the game as time expired.  They reviewed the play, but as you can see from the picture below, there was no question the ball was well out of her hands before the lights went on.

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With the game tied at 57, the 7th meeting between the Orange and the Bearcats went to overtime and Cincinnati took control, taking a four point lead late thanks to two Schuster free throws and closing out their second overtime, road, BIG EAST win this season. 

This win is a big for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, it's the fourth conference with this season for the Bearcats, their third on a road.  Coaches often tell me how difficult it is to win on the road in BIG EAST play.  It certainly has not been easy this season, but that hasn't stopped Elliott's troops from scoring three wins away from Fifth Third Arena. 

To understand just how impressive this feat it, let's look at the conference standings through Sunday, Feb. 14th.  At 4-7, the Bearcats currently stand in 12th place.  However, they are just one game back from 7th place with five games left on the regular season slate.  With three road wins, the Bearcats have as many or more road BIG EAST wins than 12 other conference teams.  Included among those 12 teams:

  • West Virginia - 3 road wins, ranked #8 in the nation
  • St. John's - 3 road wins, ranked #24 in the nation, a team the Bearcats beat at home
  • Louisville - 1 road win, national runner-up last season
  • USF - 2 road wins, WNIT Champion last season
  • Pittsburgh - 1 road win, NCAA tournament team last season

With five regular season games remaining, the Bearcats will face four teams (Providence, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Marquette) they are directly competing with for seeding in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament. 

Before they can worry about anyone else, the team turns their eyes to Providence.  They bused to Rhode Island last night immediately following the game and returned to the court for practice this morning.  If the road warriors can pull one off Tuesday night, they can position themselves for a great run in the final quarter of the regular season.  In the meantime, it is a very happy Valentines Day here in Providence. 

Follow my updates from the road on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TommyG_sideline

 

Bearcats Set to Hit the Road

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Following a tough loss at home to #3 Notre Dame on Tuesday night, Jamelle Elliott and the Bearcats are set to hit the road for five days and two games.  Friday, the Bearcats fly to Syracuse for a Saturday afternoon date with the Orange.  With Syracuse being my alma mater, I always enjoy a trip back to the Carrier Dome.  However, when I called Syracuse women's basketball games, they were played inside of Manley Field House and I often wonder why they moved to the Carrier Dome.  I understand the motives behind the move, but Manley provided a smaller venue for the women's team and gave them their own home.  The Dome may have the shiny floor and bright lights, but Manley Field House will always be the home to the Orange(women) in my heart. 

 

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With a road game on Tuesday at Providence, the Bearcats will remain on the road and travel directly to Renaissance City following their game Saturday.  The eventual five-day trip should provide Coach Elliott and her team with some additional bonding time away from Clifton.  Remember the last time the Bearcats had a long road trip was the Great Alaska Shootout and Cincinnati fared well in the Great White North, defeating Western Carolina and almost knocking off the host SeaWolves. 

With six games remaining on the regular season slate, the Bearcats find themselves in a great position to make a move within the conference standings.  They already have two road BIG EAST wins and another one this week would put them in a great spot with three of their last four at home. 

I will check-in from the road with more and be sure to listen to Saturday's game live on GoBEARCATS.com beginning with the pre-game coverage at 1:45.  Click Here to Listen

Also, follow me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/TommyG_Sideline