For the rest of the conference season the USF women’s basketball team will face familiar opponents, going up again against teams such as Louisville, UConn and UCF.
The Bulls (10-9, 5-3) have won five of their last seven games, with the two losses coming from ranked conference teams Louisville and UConn. The first opponent the Bulls take on is Houston, who the Bulls beat 77-54 on Dec. 31.
“We need to take advantage of the things that we did well against them and take away the things they did well against us,” assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Desma Thomas Bateast said.
Players such as sophomore guard Courtney Williams, who earned her sixth 20-point game of the season during a career-high 23-point game against UConn, will help the Bulls create bigger leads and prevent teams from getting a chance to catch up like Houston did at the end of the first half of their game against the Bulls earlier this season.
“I think we just have to stick to our game plan and just do what we have to do,” freshman center Katelyn Weber said. “Don’t give them a chance to come back in it like the first time. If we do that, we should be able to pull it out.”
A second half surge helped the Bulls pull away from Houston at their first meeting, with senior guard Inga Orekhova’s help from beyond the arc. She led USF that day with 18 points, nine coming from 3-pointers after halftime.
Orekhova has also continued to contribute at the guard position. After making an early return from knee surgery to join the Bulls Dec. 28 at the beginning of their conference play, USF remains undefeated (4-0) with Orekhova scoring at least 10 points.
After freshman guard Trimaine McCullough had a season-ending knee surgery, redshirt freshman guard Laura Marcos Canedo and redshirt sophomore Shalethia Stringfield are trading responsibilities.
The Bulls have been changing up the guard position’s rotation, paying particular attention to point guard. Compared to the start of the season, which included the same lineup for the first five games, 10 different players have been added to the rotation. At least four of those players have started as guard, two players currently being used as point guards.
“Each person has been doing (well) in practice, so coach is trying different things in the game,” Canedo said. “I feel like that’s why he’s rotating us, because each game is different.”
While the American Athletic Conference’s ranked teams have key starters at the guard position such as Shoni Schimmel from Louisville and Breanna Stewart at UConn, USF’s strength has been at the forward and center positions.
The rebound contribution from sophomore forward Alisia Jenkins and senior center Akila McDonald has helped keep the Bulls a top three offensive and defensive rebounding team — a quality that has remained unfazed since the beginning of the season.
USF will tip off against Houston tonight at 7 in the Sun Dome.