Sierra Cheatham has been Tulane's women's basketball team's best outside threat this season, shooting 40.1 percent on 3-point attempts heading into this week.
However in Tulane's past two games combined, Cheatham has shot 2-of-15, including 0-of-13 on 3-point attempts. She was 1-of-6, including 0-of-5 on 3-point tries, in the Green Wave's 61-43 victory at SMU on Jan. 12. Then, she shot 1-of-9, including 0-of-8 on 3-point attempts, in a 75-33 thrashing at the hands of No. 2-ranked Connecticut on Wednesday at Fogelman.
“My own frustration has been behind (her recent struggles),” said Cheatham, a 6-foot-1 small forward from Houston. “I'm still getting up shots, so I think it's just me being in my own head about stuff.”
On Saturday, Tulane (13-4, 3-1) will try to get the UConn loss out of its head when it plays an American Athletic Conference game at South Florida (10-7, 1-2). The Bulls perennially have been the second-best team in the AAC behind Connecticut.
Before the season began, the Green Wave circled this game as they aim to snatch that second spot in the conference, which could result in an NCAA tournament bid and enable it to avoid UConn in the conference tournament until the finals, if Tulane were to get there.
This game is the only meeting between the two teams this season. Tulane has lost all nine games against USF since joining the AAC in the 2014-15 season.
“We just have to put the UConn game behind us and move on,” she said. “USF is a really big game for us. (The coaches, team) probably will get mad at me if I stop shooting, so I'm going with the mindset that the next shot will go in.
“I know I'm going to play defense, so that's my first thought anyway. And, if my shot's not going in, I'm going to try to do something else.”
Something else likely would be rebounding. The Bulls have four starters out for the season with injuries and are down to nine players, four of whom are freshmen. However, South Florida has outrebounded opponents by 12.7 per game, which is seventh in the nation. USF outrebounded Connecticut 42-26, including 17-8 on the offensive glass.
“I don't think we have to win the rebounding battle, but we just can't get crushed,” Wave coach Lisa Stockton said. “We have to match their intensity. They're a different team with more post players and different people shooting the ball.”
Cheatham said her focus is on the rest of the season and helping the Wave reach its goal.
“I'm focusing on what's ahead of us,” she said. “I just want to make sure we stay positive. We we still have a lot of games to play.”