USF shoots away its woes

The University of South Florida’s women’s basketball team broke out of its shooting slump during the Best Western Roundball Classic Sunday en route to capturing the tournament title.

The Bulls look to continue their hot shooting when they face the Jacksonville Dolphins tonight at 7 in the Sun Dome.

USF (3-2) broke out in a big way against Birmingham Southern in the championship game Sunday by posting season highs in points (80), field-goal percentage (47), three-point field goal percentage (53) and free-throw percentage (86).

“I am really pleased with how well we played against Birmingham Southern,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “I think it’s really good to get back into the swing of things after the tournament.”

The Bulls go into tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak, searching for the same results they’ve enjoyed each time against the Dolphins. The Bulls have a 4-0 record against Jacksonville all-time, including a 77-72 victory last year on the road. But despite the victory, Fernandez wasn’t pleased with his team’s play last year.

“We didn’t play very well against them last year on the road,” Fernandez said. “For one reason or another, we went up to Jacksonville, we were missing some players and I don’t think that was one of our best games of the year, so we’re definitely going to use that as motivation.”

A bright spot for the Bulls could be the play of sophomore Alana Tanksley, who torched the Dolphins for 21 points last year, including six three-pointers. She is also coming off her best game of the season, when she posted a season-high 16 points, including 4-of-5 from three-point range in Sunday’s tournament finale.

But Tanksley isn’t the only Bull coming into tonight’s game with a hot hand. Tristen Webb, who notched a career-high 21 points in Sunday’s win, Sonia Cotton and Jameelah Trimble all shot the ball well in Sunday’s game, and Fernandez said his team finally has some confidence shooting the ball.

“I think several players gained a lot of confidence over the weekend,” Fernandez said. “Tristen Webb and Alana Tanksley for sure, and it was good to see Sonia Cotton really attack the glass and attack the basket the way she did.”

Trimble, who will be replaced in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game by freshman Sharon Cambridge, arguably had one of her best games of the season coming off the bench for Sunday’s game. Trimble posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in just 18 minutes.

“It was good to see Jameelah Trimble come of her own in 18 minutes,” Fernandez said. “With her not playing for a long time, it’s a lot easier for her (coming off the bench) two to three minutes into the game. Fouls have already been called, the flow of the game has already been established, and it lets her settle in and relax a little bit.”

Trimble could be in for a big night against Jacksonville if she settles in like Fernandez hopes, considering she holds a 4-inch height advantage over the Dolphins’ tallest player.