No. 22 USF women's basketball was heavily favored in its home opener against the University at Albany on Friday night, but coach Jose Fernandez knew not to look past the game.
Fernandez had only a few minutes to worry, however, when the Bulls (2-0) got off to a quick start against Albany (0-1) en route to a clear-cut 74-37 win.
“I was a little concerned to see how we would come out, because we went a little harder than we usually do the day before a game,” Fernandez said. “But I think we got off to a good start out of the gate.”
The Bulls commanded the first half, holding the Great Danes to 29 percent from field goal range and 22 percent from the three-point line, allowing zero three-pointers in the first quarter.
USF also forced six turnovers throughout the first half, freshman center Beatriz Jordao had two blocks while also adding four points of her own.
“I don’t think the offensive end is going to be a concern, I think it is more on how we will defend on the perimeter,” Fernandez said. “We got to continue develop out perimeter subs, to get Laura [Ferreria] and Kitija [Laksa] some breathers.”
In addition to the seasoned veterans, Ferreria and Laksa, Fernandez said some freshmen on the team played important roles in the win.
“We are getting good production from Harvey and Jordao, both freshman, and that was good to see,” Fernandez said.
Going into halftime the Bulls had a decisive 17-point lead and were showing no signs of slowing down.
Coming off of the halftime break, USF looked to bring out the same energy as they did in the first half. Laksa stepped up immediately, draining another three-pointer and made a steal that lead to another score.
“They probably won’t repeat what I said to them in the locker room,” Fernandez said. “If you want to be a great team, we have to do better than what we did in the second quarter. The great teams play every possession like it's the end of the game, a tie game, and that you need to get a stop. When we came out in the third quarter they showed that they can do that.”
The final quarter of the game kept the same upbeat tempo that was on the court in the previous three. Ferreria played hard all game. She helped seal the victory for her team with 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
“Tonight I just tried to be more aggressive from the beginning, and I did,” Ferreria said. “But it is all a team effort and I could only make the shots, because my teammates passed it to me and they opened the floor.”