Women finish 1-2 in tough opening weekend

The USF women’s basketball team probably had the toughest opening weekend of any team in the country.

Playing at the WBI Tip-off Tournament in Daytona Beach, the Bulls were tasked with a gauntlet of three games in as many days, all against teams from the power six basketball conferences.

With a 60-52 win Sunday over Minnesota, the Bulls picked up their first win of the season, having lost 62-49 to No. 14 Florida State on Friday and 65-61 in overtime to Arkansas on Saturday.

“I don’t think there was another tournament in the country opening weekend that had the caliber of teams,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “You had an ACC opponent, an SEC opponent, a Big East team and a Big 10 team in one tournament. From a strength standpoint, opening up your year that way was a great tournament to be in.”

Junior guard Andrell Smith fueled the Bulls in their win over Minnesota, scoring a game-high 18 points, including going 4-for-7 from beyond the three-point line.

With three games timed so near to each other, Fernandez was forced to play with a deep bench and get as many players into the game as possible, limiting wear-and-tear on their bodies since they make their home debut Tuesday.

“Everybody on our roster played every night,” he said. “Three games in three days and now we’ve got only one day of rest before another game on Tuesday.”

In her first weekend of Division I play since transferring from Gulf Coast Community College, junior forward Caitlin Rowe made a big impact on the floor. Rowe played all but 12 minutes of game action across the three-day tournament and scored a total of 38 points.

“I think in three games, she was averaging about 13 points and eight (rebounds),” Fernandez said. “We knew she would have an immediate impact for us.”

After a quick off day today, the Bulls make their home debut in the USF Campus Recreation Center tonight against North Florida at 7 p.m.