NOTEBOOK: Williams heads to WNBA final

Courtney Williams is heading to the WNBA final with the Connecticut Sun. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

Courtney Williams is just three wins away from glory.

The former USF women’s basketball standout is heading to the WNBA final after the Connecticut Sun completed a three-game sweep in the semifinal by defeating the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night. Williams played for the Bulls from 2012-2016.

Williams is the second former Bull to reach the WNBA final, following Wanda Guyton (1984-89), who won two championships with the Houston Comets in the 1990s, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

USF’s No. 2 all-time career scorer (2,304 points), Williams was drafted No. 8 overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2016 WNBA Draft before being traded to the Sun during her rookie season.

The Folkston, Georgia, native is averaging nearly a double-double during the 2019 playoffs — 19 points, 8.7 rebounds, leading the Sun in the former.

Connecticut plays the Washington Mystics in a best-of-five series starting Sunday, with Washington having home-court advantage. Games 1 and 2 will be broadcast on ESPN, Game 3 on ABC, while Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) air on ESPN2.

Softball fall schedule released

The dog days of summer may be over, but the sounds of balls, bats and gloves aren’t going away just yet.

USF softball’s seven-game fall exhibition schedule was released Tuesday. It features a selection of lower-level teams in addition to a few Division I opponents, all from the Sunshine State.

The back-to-back AAC regular-season champion Bulls face Division II regional teams Saint Leo and Tampa on Oct. 18 and 19, respectively, opening fall play. USF follows the game against the crosstown Spartans with another crosstown matchup, playing HCC later that day to wrap up a doubleheader.

The Bulls play Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 25 before playing NJCAA District H runner-up Florida Southwestern State College the next afternoon. USF wraps up Oct. 26 with a nightcap against Jacksonville.

USF’s final fall game is Nov. 14 against Northwest Florida State College. 

The games against Saint Leo and Northwest Florida State will be 10 innings. All games will be played at the USF Softball Stadium and are free to the public.

The schedule, complete with first-pitch times, can be found here.

Tuesday night results

A pair of USF teams were in action Tuesday night, both on the east coast of the Sunshine State — and both came back to the west coast victorious.

USF volleyball (6-8) defeated Bethune-Cookman in straight sets in the Bulls’ final nonconference match of the season.

Sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Pliapol recorded a team-high 15 kills, while senior outside hitter Jac’cara Walker recorded 14 digs.

“Bethune-Cookman is a scrappy team with some very nice athletes,” coach Courtney Draper said in a statement. “They had a great crowd and it’s tough to travel the day of a game, get off the bus and play, so I was pleased with our team’s performance tonight.”

Meanwhile, up I-95 in Jacksonville, USF men’s soccer edged out a 1-0 win against North Florida in a game that didn’t feature much offense. The two teams combined for 15 shots, with just six on target.

Senior defender Jonathan Rosales scored the lone goal off a corner kick in the 81st minute, while senior goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares recorded his second clean sheet of the season — though he only had to make two saves in the process.

“It was a very tough game and North Florida made it very difficult to play,” coach Bob Butehorn said in a statement. “It was a very physical game and I think that our guys responded really well. I think that we did a really good job of creating a chance or two and created enough chances where we finally got one. But it was a tough game no doubt.”

USF’s 4-2 record is its first such start since 2006, the Bulls’ second season in the Big East.

Both teams return to Tampa to open AAC play Friday, with men’s soccer facing UConn at Corbett Stadium and volleyball playing Temple at The Corral. Both contests begin at 7 p.m.