Women’s basketball scores its highest season-opener to date

Talk about a debut.

Newcomers Alexis Givands and Janae Stokes helped USF defeat Central Connecticut State 100-48 Saturday night at the Sun Dome. The 100-point total marked the highest for a season opener under coach Jose Fernandez.

“We got up and down the floor tonight well, and that’s the way we want to play,” Fernandez said. “If you look at the three newcomers, well, they played pretty well tonight.”

Givands didn’t miss a shot in the first half, and hit her first nine of the game, en route to finishing with 20 points.

“Coach told me that I need to look to shoot from now on, so that’s what I went out and did,” she said.

Stokes — who transfered from Gulf Coast Community College with Givands — put 20 points on the board as well, and hit four three-pointers. She said her success came from CCSU playing primarily in a zone defense.

“We played with high energy tonight,” she said. “As a shooter, I prefer a zone defense, and I got some open looks tonight and just took them well.”

Led by a 14-2 start, the Bulls jumped out to a 53-18 halftime lead. Shouth Florida played primarily in a full-court press defense for the entire game, and held CCSU to 25 percent from the field while forcing 33 turnovers. Fernandez said the full court press is something they’ll go into often.

“We played well defensively, and that’s the way we need to continue to play,” he said.

South Florida moves into the finals of the USF Shootout against Loyola University. Loyola defeated Harvard 78-69 earlier at the Sun Dome. The game is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday
“Tomorrow will be a tough game,” Fernandez said. “However, if we go out and play the way we did tonight, we should do well in any game.”