Sophomore Elisa Pinzan injured her ankle against Alabama State on Dec. 6.
She made her return exactly a week ago against Tulsa.
In her third game back from injury, she tied her career-high for points with 23 and set a new high for made 3-pointers with seven in Sunday’s War on I-4 matchup against UCF at the Yuengling Center.
Despite Pinzan’s explosive performance, the Bulls fell to the Knights 64-57.
Prior to Sunday, Pinzan averaged 7.5 points and 4.7 assists.
In the opening quarter, she led all scorers with nine points on three 3-pointers alone. She finished the game 7-of-12 from beyond the arc.
“I thought [Pinzan] was aggressive, she made shots,” coach Jose Fernandez said. “She played 40 minutes and made the right calls offensively and got us what we needed to get into.”
Pinzan was candidly worried about her first start since her injury.
“When I came back from the injury, I was like, ‘Hmm, I don’t know if I can do that, it’s a little bit scary,’” Pinzan said. “After a week, a week and a half, I was like, ‘I can do that, it’s my sport.’”
The team brought her confidence back by trusting her with the ball, according to Pinzan.
“They started to pass me the ball, I started to knock down shots, so they made me feel confident.”
While Pinzan was knocking down shots, the Bulls (10-8, 2-2) left their defense exposed in the second quarter. UCF (10-6, 2-2) senior Kay Kay Wright was limited to just two points in the first but scored 17 in the second.
Wright finished with 28 points and made up 44 percent of the Knights’ points. Her contribution was part of the downfall of the Bulls.
The final nail in the coffin was on USF’s part — unforced turnovers.
The Bulls trailed the Knights 60-57 with 37 seconds left in the game. USF had a chance to tie the game, but junior Bethy Mununga turned the ball over.
Freshman Kristyna Brabencova committed a foul on UCF’s Diamond Battle, who made both ensuing free throws.
With 23 seconds left and trailing by five, the Bulls’ chances of a comeback were all but squandered.
“We are just careless with the basketball,” Fernandez said. “We didn’t sit and catch and get the ball to the right places.”
Now, the focus is on the road trip to Wichita State on Wednesday, according to Fernandez.
“You got to have short-term memory. You got to start getting ready for Wichita State tomorrow.”