Bench carries Bulls over Bearcats

Alisia Jenkins was able to record a double-double despite being pulled due to the lopsided score. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

USF (19-4, 10-1) had already gathered a double-digit lead in the first half when Courtney Williams caught a Bearcat defender off guard and bounced a pass off her back to set up the easy lay-in. 

Williams was fouled on the attempt and the USF bench erupted when the whistle blew. 

The junior guard has continued to add on to her recent success, coming away with her eighth-straight game of at least 20 points, accounting for 20 points and five rebounds on the day. 

 “It was good that we were able to manage Courtney’s minutes tonight,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “It really gave some other players that work hard day in and day out a chance to get some playing time.”

Forward Alisia Jenkins was as much of a force on defense as she was on offense. The junior blocked five shots on the day and scored 19 points with 15 rebounds. Sophomore center Katelyn Weber was a big factor in limiting the Bearcats’ scoring, as she allowed only 20 points in the paint all game.

Cincinnati (6-16, 3-7) had no answer for Jenkins and Weber down low early on, shooting 18.5 percent and going just 5-for-27 in the first half. The Bearcats were held to 13 points in the first 20 minutes, marking USF’s second-best defensive effort of the year aside from Northern Colorado (12). 

With the game out of reach early on, the Bulls’ bench was able to contribute just as much offense as the Bearcats’ entire team, scoring 36 total points. Freshman forward Maria Jespersen played 18 minutes for the Bulls and came away with eight points and seven rebounds, more than doubling her season averages. 

“The starters came in and ran away with the game early on,” Jespersen said. “When the bench came in, we had such incredible energy from those starters that we just kept scoring.” 

With a nearly 40-point lead close to the 10-minute mark of the second half, Fernandez pulled his starters to give the bench players some well-deserved minutes. 

“I was happy that our bench came in and defended,” Fernandez said. “Our team is definitely progressing with how they can come in and give the effort that they did.”