As the Bulls are beginning to realize, it isn’t always easy to maintain success.
Despite senior guard Courtney Williams going over the 2,000 point mark, USF still had to fight off Cincinnati in an 82-49 win Wednesday.
However, it looks like Coach Jose Fernandez has his team where it needs to be.
With two would-be starters in the Bulls’ backcourt wearing walking boots, the 19th-ranked team in the country was once again forced to be creative in finding ways to fill the void left.
USF (16-5, 9-2) was able to respond to the holes in their lineup left by injuries to forwards Laura Ferreira (plantar fasciitis) and Alisia Jenkins (ankle) with one of its best defensive performances of the season, holding the Bearcats to 25.7 percent shooting on the night.
The Bulls, who donned special all-grey uniforms in support of the Moffitt Cancer Center and brain cancer research, came out as the aggressor. Senior guard Courtney Williams led the way, knocking down the game’s first three field.
After sprinting off to a 16-5 lead to start the game and a 20-9 advantage to end the first quarter, the Bulls looked poised to put the game out of reach early.
“I think we got off to a good start, we haven’t been getting off to good starts lately,” Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said after the game.
But with USF only tallying 11 points in the second quarter, the Bearcats were able to hang around with the one of the best offenses in the country in USF, which averages 75.6 points per game.
A nine-point halftime lead for the Bulls only continued to shrink as play resumed, with Cincinnati scoring the first trio of field goals in the third quarter to cut the lead to 31-27.
But that would be the closest the ‘Cats would get.
From there, it was Williams who began to assert her dominance, as she has for the majority of her career.
With 28 on the evening, Williams now sits at exactly 2,000 points for her career, making her only the second player in program history to achieve the mark. She still trails USF’s all-time leading scorer Jessica Dickson by 402 points.
Regardless of how the season ends, reaching yet another milestone while leading the Bulls to victory is exactly what Williams envisioned when she joined the team in 2012.
“That’s what I signed up for. That’s what I always wanted to be for this team,” an ecstatic Williams reflected after the win. “I wanted to be the person to take the game-winning shot, that the team looks to get a bucket. I mean, that’s the person I wanted to be. So there’s no pressure.”
Williams was not the only Bull on parade in the win. Senior guard Shalethia Stringfield added 15 points of her own in the win, giving her four straight games with double-digit points.
USF also set a new program record with 48 defensive team rebounds, and Williams led the Bulls with 15 total rebounds.
The Bulls head to Philadelphia this weekend to take on a Temple (14-7, 8-2) squad that trails USF by only half of a game in the AAC standings.