Bouncing back would be an understatement for the womens basketball team as it earned its first win in the Big East on Tuesday night at home against Cincinnati, beating the Bearcats 77-44.
Playing in front of a multitude of empty green seats throughout the night didnt seem to stop the Bulls from gaining the momentum needed to push them far ahead of the Bearcats.
What started out as a defensive stalemate between the teams, soon turned into a blowout as the Bulls jumped from a four point lead with 7:30 left in the half to 34-19heading into the locker room at halftime.
I thought the way we closed out the first half was huge, Fernandez said. “I was proud of our group.
There was simply no answer for USFs offense in the second half as the Smith sisters, senior guards Andrell and Andrea, led the Bulls in scoring on the night with 16 and 17 points, respectively.
I think Andrell adjusted well, moving her to the point guard spot and creating opportunities for not only herself but her team and Andrea is a scorer, Fernandez said after the game. Both of them are just so aggressive and play so hard.
Freshman forward Alisia Jenkins also joined the offensive action,
almost putting up a double-double for the Bulls with eight points and 12 rebounds.
With (Jenkins) versatility and athleticism, her best basketball is still ahead, Fernandez said. Were proud of her and proud to have such a good freshman class.
The first conference win on the season for the Bulls also marks
Jenkins first win in the Big East.
I just do the little things, I box out, I go up strong, I get
rebounds and drive to the basket when Im open, Jenkins said. Its just the little things.
In addition to playing their best shooting performances of the
season, going 46 percent from the field, the defense seemed to have things figured out from the beginning of the night which helped the team as a whole.
When youre getting steals and getting deflections the bench gets excited, Fernandez said. We feed off that energy.
The Bearcats only shot 32.7 percent from the field against the Bulls, who out-rebounded the Bearcats 42-32.
Andrell Smith carried the load for the Bulls in the first half of play, leading USF with 16 points and 7 assists. She ended the half by scoring 12 of USFs last 13 to mark halftime.
The Bulls came out in the seond half even stronger, when Andrea Smith caught her sisters hot streak. While she had five points at halftime, she jumped to 17 about nine minutes into the second half.
But few things went right for Cincinnati.
Apart from improving their shooting from the field from 30.4 percent to 34.6 percent, the Bearcats couldnt match the energy of the Bulls.
Despite playing in a Sun Dome so empty that at one point those present cheered awkward silence, the team did not seem to lack motivation.
You cant coach effort, Fernandez said.
The Bulls will look to move forward from Tuesdays performance as they head on the road to play Villanova on Saturday at 2 p.m.