Tsineke has big night in front of sister in Bulls’ win over East Carolina

The Tsineke sisters played each other Tuesday night at the Yuengling Center. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

USF freshman guard Elena Tsineke had a special guest at the Yuengling Center on Tuesday night during the Bulls’ 81-52 victory over East Carolina (8-19, 5-9).

However, this guest was not sitting in the stands with the rest of the USF faithful, she was sitting on the opposing sideline.

Katerina Tsineke is not only a freshman guard for ECU, she is the twin sister of Elena. Katerina had a front-row seat for her sister’s 19-point performance in which Elena went 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

“It’s always fun,” Elena said about going up against her sister. “At first it’s a little bit awkward, but then it becomes fun. I can’t lie, we talked a little bit during the game.”

Although the sisters did not have too much interaction early on, there was a sequence during the second half that showed their competitive spirit. Early in the third quarter, Katerina got a steal, was on a fast break and thought she had an easy layup. But as she went up, Elena was there to swat away the attempt.

“She was like, ‘Why did you do that to me?’” Elena said jokingly.

Later in the game, Katerina got revenge by stealing the ball from Elena during the fourth quarter.

“She stole my ball,” Elena said. “I was like, ‘So what’s going on? Is that what we’re gonna do now?’”

Tsineke was not the only player that had a good offensive performance for USF (17-11, 9-5). She was just one of five Bulls — sophomore guard Sydni Harvey with 14, junior center Shae Leverett with 13, sophomore guard Elisa Pinzan with 13 and sophomore center Beatriz Jordao with 11 — who finished in double figures. 

Leverett also recorded her seventh career double-double by securing 11 rebounds. 

“Shae and Bethy [Mununga] did a really good job on the glass and finishing around the rim,” coach Jose Fernandez said. 

Despite the final score, ECU put up a fight in the first quarter, even taking the lead with a buzzer beating 3-pointer by guard Lashanda Monk.

Monk finished with a game-high 23 points. She and freshman guard Taniyah Thompson combined for 39 of ECU’s 51 points. 

The Pirates’ lead disappeared early in the second quarter as USF went on a 15-2 run that gave them a 15-point lead.

The Bulls never looked back.

As hot as the Bulls were offensively during the second quarter, outscoring the Pirates 31-10, shooting 64.7 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from 3-point range, it was defense that was responsible for the team pulling away, according to Fernandez.

“Our defense led to how we held them to one shot,” Fernandez said, “how we created some turnovers and pushed the ball up the floor.”

The Bulls also outrebounded the Pirates 50-30, with 20 of those being offensive rebounds, which was one of the biggest keys to victory, according to Fernandez.

“The glass is the most glaring thing,” he said. “You’ve got 20 offensive rebounds. Just imagine, I mean, we missed 38 shots and offensive rebounded over half of those misses.

“When you look at the stats, that’s why the score is the score that it is.”