Fernandez reaches 300 win plateau in 30-point win

USF coach Jose Fernandez reached 300 career wins Tuesday night as the Bulls blew out Memphis at the Sun Dome. ORACLE PHOTO

Already owning the most wins of any coach in USF basketball history, women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez reached yet another milestone with his 300th career win in a 79-49 victory over Memphis on Tuesday night at the Sun Dome.

“I’m really proud of this group for a lot,” Fernandez said.

“Last Tuesday (102-37 loss to UConn) wasn’t indicative of what our program is or what this team was about. After last game (79-48 win over ECU), we really talked about it. How they responded, how they responded in practice, that’s what you want to see.”

Despite coming into their conference matchup with the Tigers averaging just over 22 3-point attempts per game, the Bulls (15-2, 4-1) found themselves adjusting to score 19 of their 21 first quarter points from inside the paint.

Holding USF to only eight points in the second quarter, the Tigers (8-10, 1-4) kept the game close by holding the Bulls to 1-of-8 from beyond the arc to keep the Bulls’ lead at 29-22 going into the half.

From there, however, the Bulls would begin to create distance on the heels of a 12-2 run to open up the half.

“We had a bad last couple minutes going into halftime, and we weren’t satisfied where we were with it,” junior forward Maria Jespersen said.

“So when we came out of the third quarter, we said the first five minutes was our five minutes. We always say that, and we just came out and defended. It was in our defense that we were able to turn it around.”

Jespersen would cap off the run with a second 3-pointer of the half on her way to 26 points on the night, tying her career high set against Stetson earlier this season.

The Bulls ended the third quarter on a 10-0 run, shooting 71 percent from the field to end the frame with a 56-35 lead on their way to the 30-point victory.

For Fernandez, it is yet another milestone celebrated at the Sun Dome in his 17 years at the helm of the USF’s women’s basketball program. Along with his 300th win Tuesday, Fernandez’s 100th, 150th, 200th,, and 250th career wins all took place at home.

“I’m so happy for him,” senior forward Ariadna Pujol said. 

“It’s a big milestone and it’s just very impressive. Three hundred wins is a lot, and it’s great to be a part of.”

Pujol did her part in the victory as one of four Bulls in double figures, finishing with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds).

The Bulls remain at home this week, in preparation to host No. 8 Louisville (16-4,4-2) of the ACC on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.