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USF’s Jenkins comes back strong in win over Tulane

After missing almost a month due to an ankle injury, senior forward Alisia Jenkins doesn’t show any signs of rust.

Despite being out of the Bulls’ starting lineup since Jan. 5, the program’s all-time leading rebounder managed to lead the way for the Bulls on the glass with 20 rebounds en route to a 77-65 win over Tulane on Tuesday night.

“It feels great to be back on the court with my girls,” a relieved Jenkins said after the victory. “I really missed playing. I missed rebounding. I missed talking to the girls on the court. I just missed it all.”

Jenkins, who returned to game action in USF’s 68-66 loss at Temple on Sunday, had her way with Tulane’s backcourt, keeping the Green Wave from registering an offensive rebound until a minute into the second quarter.

The effort was only Jenkins' second career game with over with 20 rebounds, only five shy of the USF’s single-game record of 25 set by Wanda Guyton in 1987.

With one of the most prolific rebounders in school history in Jenkins back in the lineup, the No. 22 Bulls (17-6, 10-3) were able to get off to a fast start, controlling the action in the paint from the opening Tulane (16-8, 7-5) possession. The Bulls outrebounded the Green Wave 13-2 in the first quarter, helping them get out to a 21-14 lead after the initial period.

With USF regulating the flow of the game from inside the paint, the Bulls were able to open the floor for two players who have carried the burden of without  in guards Kitjia Laksa and Courtney Williams. The duo combined for 32 of USF’s 77 points in the victory.

Laksa, the reigning AAC Freshman of the Week for the past three consecutive weeks, continued her torrid streak  this season with 14 points, 12 coming from behind the arc.

Williams, who was honored before the game for reaching the 2,000-point plateau for her career, led the Bulls with 18 points, going 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts.

The win moves the Bulls to 12-1 at home this season, but coach Jose Fernandez warns that this is not the time of year for his squad to get ahead of themselves with a significant game at No. 12 Louisville looming.

“I told our guys that (Louisville) game is going to be there,” cautioned Fernandez. “It’s 9 o’clock, it’s Big Monday. But Cincinnati is a league game. You can’t get to Louisville without going to Cincinnati, and our kids understand that.”

The Bulls travel to Cincinnati on Friday night before meeting the Cardinals on Monday night. USF looks to avenge last years’ 60-52 loss to the Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.