It was Senior Night at the Yuengling Center on Saturday night, so of course there was going to be a dramatic ending for the Bulls’ lone senior.
Tamara Henshaw found herself wide open underneath the basket after a pass from junior Bethy Mununga with just over 90 seconds to play in what was ultimately an 85-62 victory over SMU.
Coach Jose Fernandez then, to nobody’s surprise, called timeout, letting Henshaw walk off the court at home on an incredible note, with the crowd giving her a standing ovation and chanting her name.
“It’s just breathtaking to know that this is your last game in the Yuengling Center,” Henshaw said. “I was telling them in the locker room, there is no other experience than that. No matter if it was the last basket that I make or whatever. Just having the crowd cheering for you, your coaches standing for you, hugging you — it’s breathtaking. It’s very emotional.”
Henshaw finished with eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 night from the field while collecting five rebounds, as well as the penultimate basket of the game for the Bulls.
But the underclassmen tried to steal the show.
Fifty-nine of USF’s points came from either freshmen or sophomores, including three in double figures — freshman Elena Tsineke (21) and sophomores Elisa Pinzan (14) and Sydni Harvey (11). Pinzan came close to a double-double with nine assists, with eight coming in the second half.
“In the first half, she was dribbling too much and trying to get into gaps and stuff,” Fernandez said. “Second half, she threw it up to [Tsineke] and [Harvey] and found post players running. And look at the difference in the shots you got in the second half to the first half.”
That difference led to turning what was a three-point USF lead at halftime into a game that the Bulls had effectively in the bag by the halfway point of the third quarter thanks to a 24-8 run to start the second half.
Mununga, the other Bull who scored in double figures, scored 12 of her 13 points and collected 12 of her team-high 16 rebounds in the second half, earning her ninth double-double of the season.
“I thought she rebounded out of her area,” Fernandez said. “She had a great second half.”
The game wasn’t exactly as electric in the first half, with the teams trading baskets essentially. The teams were tied or exchanged the lead a total of 12 times in the first half. Neither team hit a field goal the final three minutes of the first quarter.
But in the end, the first half didn’t really matter.
The night was defined by one perfectly timed basket for an outgoing veteran.
“This is just a feeling that I can’t explain, because it’s just — it’s a lot of emotion,” Henshaw said. “It’s a lot of happiness. It’s a lot of sadness that I’m leaving. But overall, I’m just going to miss how much support was here.”