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Women’s hoops shines in exhibition

Less than two weeks before the start of the regular season, South Florida women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez is still not sure which players will receive the most playing time.

After the Bulls defeated the Miami Sun 91-67 in an exhibition at the Sun Dome on Saturday, it’s no surprise he’s having a hard time deciding.

USF had 11 players play at least five minutes or more throughout the game, and five scored double-figures — three of them players off the bench.

“Coming up to this game we wanted to play as many players we could,” Fernandez said. “We have maybe an idea for our starters. But, (Janae) Stokes and (Jasmine) Wynne will play a lot and the four post players will play a lot too.”

Senior Jazmine Sepulveda, who started at shooting guard, said the uncertainty keeps the team competitive for playing time.

“I think we have different weapons on the court all the time,” she said. “We motivate each other every day in practice with how we play and I think every team should have that.”

Three of the five players that scored more than 10 points were newcomers to the squad. Wynne scored 15 points and Stokes scored 13. Junior Alexis Givands, a transfer from Gulf Coast Community College, didn’t miss a shot from the field en route to scoring 11.

“I’m slowly getting comfortable,” Givands said. “It’s more of a half-court game here in the Big East. I know I had to learn a lot more plays compared to junior college.”

The Bulls were leading 16-15 with the Sun at the 5:54 mark in the first half, but USF went on a 14-0 run, led by four players off the bench. However, the Sun cut the lead to 40-31 by halftime.

“The first half was the first time we’ve really played as a team together this year,” Fernandez said. “I thought our offensive rebounding wasn’t good in the first half, and we turned the ball over far too many times.”

The Bulls turned the ball over 13 times in the first half. Fernandez, though, said he was glad the players coming off the bench provided good minutes during the 14-0 run.

“We played a different couple rotations in the situation that maybe we normally wouldn’t play,” he said. “That was our concern. We wanted to play a lot of different lineups.”

USF came out in the second half with a different tempo. The Bulls switched into a full-court press for the first 10 minutes, which held the Sun to just 35.9 percent shooting from the field. Fernandez said playing at a higher level is the point of emphasis at halftime.

“I think we started running our lanes in transition a lot better offensively,” he said. “We ran a lot better in the second half. “

“We wanted to press to get our energy level up. I think it helped us a lot.”

Sepulveda said having so many players play so well makes the team far more dynamic.

“We are supposed to be able to switch the routine up,” she said. “This team has the ability to put anyone in the game and they’ll go and make plays.”