After an intense last two quarters, USF women’s basketball secured a 55-46 victory against Wichita State on Saturday evening at the Yuengling Center. However, the Bulls’ third-straight win equated to No. 350 for coach Jose Fernandez. Fernandez's 350th victory comes in his 19th season as a head coach, all at USF.
While most USF players were held by Wichita State’s defense, Shae Leverett managed to be a constant menace to the Shockers, scoring 20 points and adding 18 rebounds, collecting her fourth double-double of the season.
Leverett credited her success in this game to confidence from her teammates and team effort as a whole.
“[My teammates] give me confidence that even if I miss, I can get it some other way and that just them finding me, hitting me if I’m rim-running — she would find me inside,” Leverett said. “I feel like a team effort just showed up more in my stats.”
Sophomore Enna Pehadzic was held by the defense until the second quarter when she made a 3-pointer. Despite holding usual scorers such as Pehadzic in-check, the Bulls ended the first half with a nine-point lead.
While Wichita State was down nine points at the end of the second quarter, it managed to tie the game 41-41 by the end of the third quarter.
“They mix up so many things that they do defensively, so we had to get ready for a one vs one zone,” Fernandez said. “It bothered us in that second half…but one of the big keys that we talk to our team about is rebounding and finishing around the paint and that was a difference tonight.”
Out-rebounding Wichita State by 16 helped USF maintain its lead. This rebounding came primarily from junior Tamara Henshaw, Leverett and freshman Luize Septe.
With less than two minutes left, freshman Elisa Pinzan added a point from a free throw and Pehadzic made a field goal and added four points from free throws, giving the Bulls a nine-point lead again.
Despite a rocky start in the beginning of the game, the Bulls were able to hold on to their nine-point lead and secure another conference win.
“At the end we’re still getting to know each other, who we are, expectations, responsibilities and time to score because we have a lot of guys that have never been in those positions before,” Fernandez said. “If you look at our last three games — what we’ve done in the fourth quarter — I think we’ve learned from it.”