Women’s basketball takes on UCF in ‘just another game’

Coach Jose Fernandez and the Bulls continue their conference schedule Tuesday at the Yuengling Center against UCF.  ORACLE FILE PHOTO

After a victory on the road at Temple to begin conference play, USF women’s basketball (10-5, 1-0) returns to the Yuengling Center on Tuesday night to take on War on I-4 rival UCF (12-2, 1-0) at 7 o'clock.

Although the games against UCF are usually touted as a big rivalry, USF players and coaches are looking at this game just like the rest.

“I think a game like Central Florida, outside people make it more like a rivalry and it is us versus them,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “For us, it's just another game.”

The Bulls have lost key players Kitija Laksa and Beatriz Jordao to injury, but the team remains confident.

“We keep supporting each other, no one is getting injured on purpose so we just support them,” senior Laura Ferreira said. “It is hard when someone has an injury, but we have to keep going and the season keeps going.”

The injuries have forced USF to adapt as the Bulls settle into conference play.

“We had to adapt a little bit whenever there is an injury, but we keep working hard and focusing on our strengths,” Ferreira said. “We are in really good shape. We worked really hard over the summer, and we keep doing conditioning throughout the season. We have the legs.”

“We have to see this as 0-0, it is a whole different part of the year and an important part of the year," sophomore Enna Pehadzic said. "We have to look at it as 0-0 and forget about the non-conference play. We can't take a play off, we definitely can't take a play off. We are a young team, so we have to defend and take every possession.”

USF knows the importance of its next 15 games as conference play leads into the AAC tournament.

“Every conference game is important, it's one of 16,” Fernandez said. “It has always been, since we joined the American Conference, we have never finished worse than third. I think all the teams in the conference have always been chasing Connecticut and us, and we know we are going to get everyone's best punch. It is probably more important for them, because they have always been chasing us.”