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Bulls win first game without Orekhova


After dropping its first game without senior guard Inga Orekhova to Florida Gulf Coast University, the USF women’s basketball team held off Stetson on Sunday afternoon in a 72-68 win.


Sophomore guard Courtney Williams led the Bulls with 22 points and 10 rebounds to carry the workload in absence of Orekhova, while sophomore guard Shalethia Stringfield led the Bulls with a career-high seven assists.


Stringfield said the responsibilities for each player are raised when without a player like Orekhova.


“Each person has a role and we know what we have to do,” she said. “But of course we’re going to get on each other as we wait for her to come back.”


Orekhova, the Bulls’ third-leading scorer last season, was assumed to share the bulk of the scoring responsibilities with sophomore guard Courtney Williams this season after losing former Bulls Andrea and Andrell Smith.


But before Orekhova’s surgery, she was shooting 26 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range. After her surgery, she said she immediately felt better, indicating her knee may have been a lingering injury that impacted her play.


As Orekhova watched from the bench, the Bulls shot 5-of-27 (18.5 percent) from three-point range against the Hatters, making for a much closer score than the team’s typical percentage.


“Our lack of perimeter shooting stands out,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “That hasn’t been a characteristic of our program. If we’re not making shots, we need to try to get in the high-post and score from there.”


WIth Orekhova gone, Fernandez said he doesn’t necessarily need to find a reliable second scoring option behind Williams, he’s just looking for someone to make shots.


“I’d just like to see somebody make some shots,” he said. “If somebody can make them, there’s definitely time to put them on the floor. A lot of (the shots) are point-blank wide-open shots.”


Williams and Stetson freshman guard Brianti Saunders tied for the game-high of 22 points, while Williams led all players with 10 rebounds (seven offensive), even more than USF’s forwards and center.


“She does a great job attacking the glass,” Fernandez said. “She played well. I think Courtney can be one of the best players in our league.”


The Bulls play at Oklahoma State Dec. 14.


“We lost our last two,” Fernandez said. “Getting a win definitely helps. We’ll be off this week for finals.”