Freshmen lift Bulls in season debut

The USF women’s basketball team opened its exhibition season with an 82-71 win over the Premier Players at the Sun Dome on Wednesday.

USF coach Jose Fernandez used the game to spread out playing time, trying to give all his players time on the floor. Eight players were on the floor for at least 15 minutes for the Bulls, and five players scored in double digits.

“We played everybody tonight,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “I wanted to get as many people as possible in tonight. Tristen Webb only played three minutes, but she’s a kid we’re going to play (more in the regular season). Ezria Parsons, who coming into the season was projected starting in the four spot, she was out tonight. So we’ve still got two kids to throw in the lineup, but I was not very happy with our defensive effort in the second half.

“But when you’ve got seven newcomers like we do, it’s going to take a little bit of time to gel. But I’m very pleased with our performance, especially … from our new players. But we had 19 turnovers. That’s too many. You don’t beat good teams turning the ball over like that.”

USF led by as many as 13, but allowed the Premier Players to pull within one point at 62-61 with 5:40 left in the game. The Bulls scored six straight, however, to pull away for good.

Junior college transfers Rae Rae Sayles and Jessica Dickson of USF led all scorers with 18 points each. Freshmen Dickson, who also had 13 rebounds, and Nalini Miller, with 12 points and 13 boards, both posted double-doubles for the Bulls. Kansas State transfer Andrea Armstrong scored 10 points in 22 minutes in her USF debut. Armstrong fouled out with nine seconds left in the game, with four of her five fouls coming in the second half.

“I think I just got a little tired, eventually,” Armstrong said. “I kind of wanted to stay on the floor, but I didn’t want to hurt my team by getting stupid fouls, which is the wrong mentality to have. I should be out there trying to be aggressive and not even be thinking about fouls.”

Senior point guard Melissa Tape led all players with six assists. Twice Tape left the game after on-court collisions, once when she hurt her knee diving for a loose ball and another when she hurt her back taking a charge.

Former USF player Jameelah Trimble scored one point and led all players with six turnovers in 25 minutes for the Premier Players. Trimble averaged 9.4 points and 7.1 rebounds with a school-record 56 blocks in 20 games for USF last year.

The team will host one more exhibition game, Nov. 16 against Miami AAU, before opening the season on the road against Wagner on Nov. 21.