Bulls ‘send message’ advancing in WNIT
The women’s basketball team expressed an element of disappointment Friday after holding off North Carolina A&T at home 56-50.
But for USF coach Jose Fernandez, it was a bit more than disappointment.
“Katelyn Webber and Akila McDonald had zero rebounds in the first half,” he said. “That’s not good enough. They’re both 6-foot-5. At worst you’ll run into one. They sucked.”
They made up for the 21-second chance points and 14 offensive rebounds allowed in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) by beating second round team Stetson 75-56, Sunday.
Despite their lead throughout the game, senior guard Inga Orekhova was upset, but for a different reason.
“We’re upset, so we’re taking it out on opponents right now,” Orekhova said. “It’s a good thing, but it would have been better to make the Tournament.”
Orekhova, who scored 15 points against North Carolina A&T, had plenty to prove to the NCAA selection committee on Sunday. The emotions guided her to a 22-point performance, which included a career-tying 18-point effort shooting from behind the three-point line.
“I feel like every game from now on we have to send a message,” Orekhova said. “After Selection Monday, we didn’t make it, so every game is going to be a message now.”
Fellow senior, center Akila McDonald, followed suit in sending a message with her own shooting performance making 10-of-11 field goals and finishing one point behind Orekhova.
Most of McDonald’s points came during the second half after a first half pep talk from Fernandez when foul trouble forced him to pull her from the court in the first half.
“I told her ‘Time is running out. You only have four more games in your career,’ ” Fernandez said. “I guess I
p—ed her off because she had a great second half.”
McDonald’s 8-point contribution during the first nine minutes of the second half helped the Bulls storm to a 20-3 run.
The Bulls didn’t stop building a lead after that run as they were able to create a 29-point margin with 4:53 left in the game.
“We’re just going to take (our emotions) out on every opponent pretty much,” McDonald said. “They’re going to get the wrath.”
That wrath included several records, both personal and program, stemming from Sunday’s 19-point victory.
The 21-point performance by McDonald was a career-high along with sophomore guard Courtney Williams’ career-high seven assists.
The combination of efficient shooting and effective passing helped create a 51.7 percent field goal efficiency for USF — a postseason game record for the program.
Fernandez sang a different tune from this one Friday night, praising his team for playing unselfishly after being concerned with the their performance at the start of the first half, comparing it to Friday’s game against North Carolina A&T.
The third round of the WNIT will be played Thursday against George Washington University on Thursday at7 p.m in the Sun Dome.