Bulls use depth to hold off Hatters

In USF’s first game of a four-game home stand, it was able to hold off Stetson (5-2) behind a season-high 11 3-pointers in a 78-62 win Wednesday.

After returning from a five-day trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands where the women’s basketball team matched up against three of the top teams in the country, including No. 9 Kentucky, coach Jose Fernandez said he could tell his team was worn down in practice Tuesday. 

“We got back from the Virgin Islands late Sunday night and we had a great practice on Monday,” Fernandez said. “I wasn’t pleased with what we did in the gym on Tuesday. I thought we were flat. We tried to save some legs (Tuesday), because mentally I don’t think we were there like we would like to have been.”

Fernandez said this year’s team is the deepest and most versatile team he’s had and that helped the Bulls pull away from the Hatters after giving up a 10-0 run to begin the second half and tie the game. 

“We tried to play a lot of guys to save some legs and it showed in the final nine minutes,” Fernandez said. “We ran and sprinted a lot harder and they got into some foul trouble, which helped the cause.”

The Bulls went on a 23-11 run in the final nine minutes, led by senior guard Tamara Taylor, who had eight points during the run, including two 3-pointers. 

Fernandez said the team is worn down not only from playing a tough schedule, but also from studying for the last week of school. 

“We’ve played seven of these first eight games against NCAA or NIT teams. Not many people have done that,” Fernandez said. “Maybe we are a little worn down physically, mentally and emotionally. The mental part is a big part of being a student-athlete and that could have been the case today.”

Junior forward Alisia Jenkins had a double-double before halftime and finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.  

With center Katelyn Weber limited to only 13 minutes after recently returning from a foot injury, Jenkins had to switch to center while Weber was on the bench. 

“She’s a high-motor guy,” Fernandez said. “She does a great job on the glass. At times she gets a little frustrated because we’re playing her at that five and she’s having to guard bigger guys and we’re telling her not to sit behind the post.”

USF (6-2) will continue its home stand when it hosts St. John’s on Sunday at 2 p.m.