Young players carry load hosting Jacksonville


One of the many things USF coach Jose Fernandez is proud of heading into tonight’s game against Jacksonville at the Sun Dome is the depth on this year’s team.

“I think last year we played six or seven guys. We didn’t have interior help,” Fernandez said. “We got (Katelyn) Weber and (Ivana) Vuletic to help inside. We have four perimeter guys this year that can all score on any night. Last year, we had to settle for Andrell Smith, Andrea Smith and Inga Orekhova playing 35, 36 minutes. I think we got a lot of different weapons in different areas.”

With eight players returning from last year’s team and adding players to replace Andrell and Andrea Smith, the USF women’s basketball team comes into the game against the Dolphins looking to expand on its talents.

But with senior guard Orekhova struggling from the floor, shooting a combined 1-of-16 through the first two games, the Bulls (1-1) have relied on their young players to carry the load.

Sophomore guard Courtney Williams posted a career-high of 21 points with help from sophomore forward Alisia Jenkins, who scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the 78-70 loss Friday night against No. 8 Maryland.

Freshman guard Ariadna Pujol scored a career-high of 20 points and grabbed three rebounds in their 81-47 victory Sunday against Central Connecticut State.

The Bulls also received help from the bench from junior guard Tamara Taylor, a junior college transfer from Gulf Coast State College, averaging 14 points through the first two games.

In her Division I debut against the Terrapins, Taylor said the level of competition is different compared to junior-college level.

“This game is faster … More competition,” Taylor said. “I got other teammates who can score with me.”

In the win against the Blue Devils, Fernandez played all 16 players, from Jenkins, who played 24 minutes, to Weber, who played five.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins travel to Tampa with a team, that once had two seniors, to
having five and one junior this season.

Jacksonville (0-1) walks into the arena, losing its season opener Friday to Florida A&M, 69-64.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.