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Jespersen scores 26 in win over Bearcats

USF junior forward Maria Jespersen recorded her eighth double-double of the season on Wednesday, with 26 points and 12 rebounds. 
ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

Overcoming a sluggish first quarter in which they led by six, the USF women’s basketball team came alive in the final three quarters to beat Cincinnati 72-52 on Wednesday night at the Sun Dome. 

Bulls junior forward Maria Jespersen led all scorers, finishing with a double-double and tied her career high with 26 points, to go along with 12 boards.

This was the third time Jespersen scored 26 points this season.

“We just wanted to go back on defense in transition and get the ball to matchup fast so that we could get the ball on the offensive faster,” Bulls’ junior forward Ariadna Pujol said.

Dominating the boards on both ends of the floor, No. 20 USF’s +23 rebound margin on the night held Cincinnati to only seven second-chance points.

Pujol, one of three Bulls in double figures including Jespersen and sophomore forward Kitija Laksa, finished the game with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Starting the game missing nine of her first 10 shots, Laksa finished with 11 points while going 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. 

Coming in to the game, Laksa was tied for 22nd in the country with 64 made 3-pointers.

Despite having an off night shooting, Jespersen said Laksa’s presence alone is enough to open the floor up for players like her and Pujol to hit open shots even when Laksa isn’t at her best.

“We have to remember that part of the reason why Ariadna (Pujol) and I get to sit here with good stat lines in because of Kit,” Jespersen said.

“She draws so much attention from the other team and it opens the floor up and the possibilities for Ari and I. Kit’s stat sheet doesn’t show her best game, but she’s a big part of other people having a good night.”

With the win, USF extends its AAC home winning streak to four games. 

The last time the Bulls lost an AAC game at the Sun Dome was Jan. 10, 2016, a 75-59 defeat at the hands of the four-time defending national champion Connecticut Huskies.

USF goes on the road next week to take on Memphis and East Carolina, and returns home Feb. 12 to host Tulane.