After a month and a half absence with a stress fracture in her left fibula, freshman Jen Kline returns today as the Bulls host TCU. And not a moment too soon for the USF women’s basketball as it’s mired in a two-game losing streak and has dropped five of their last six. The Bulls (12-8, 2-5-C-USA) will need plenty of help to reverse their current slide, especially against TCU, which is 5-1 in Conference USA and sports a 15-4 mark overall. The Horned Frogs are followed by the 14-5 Houston Cougars Sunday.
“This league’s tough, top to bottom,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “We’re fortunate she’s back, and we’re not concerned who she’s coming back against. We could have brought her back last week, but she got some more rest, and she’s 100 percent now.”
The Bulls’ leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, Kline sustained the injury in the Bulls matchup with Western Kentucky Dec. 16. Without the lithe forward from Nevada in the starting lineup, USF went 5-6. However, at the time of her injury, the Bulls were 7-2.
“I don’t put pressure on myself (to turn the whole team around),” Kline said. “I’m just ready to play, and I want to play. I’ve been ready for six weeks. It’s driving me crazy.”
Prior to her injury, Kline was USF’s second leading rebounder and a key threat behind the three-point line. During her absence, the Bulls have seen their numbers drop in both of those categories. While USF’s competition has improved from the Savannah States and Morris Browns it faced in November, the Bulls have clearly missed Kline’s presence on the court.
“No. 1 – her scoring,” Fernandez said. “Scoring and rebounding but also just her presence on the court, because she makes everyone around her better. Plus, it won’t put so much pressure on Sonia (Cotton), Aiya (Shepard) and Alana (Tanksley) to put the ball in the basket.”
- Anthony Gagliano covers women’s basketball and can be reached at email@example.com