USF women’s basketball had never lost to Jacksonville through 13 games spanning back to 1999, and on Saturday, the Bulls (1-0) added another game to the streak with a dominant 84-46 win over the Dolphins (0-2).
A 14-2 run at the end of the first quarter put the game out of reach, and USF never looked back. The Bulls led by as many as 40-points.
It was a team effort in the first half. Sydni Harvey and Kristyna Brabencova led the way with a combined 20 points. The team shot 54% from the field and 47% from three.
The dominant first half led to a 49-25 lead at halftime.
While the first half was impressive, coach Jose Fernandez saw a lack of energy in the third quarter.
“Third quarter, for one reason or another, I just didn’t think we came out of that locker room ready to play,” Fernandez said.
But it was the first time the team played in a live game since their season was canceled last year due to the pandemic, and Fernandez recognized the importance of playing someone other than the Bulls.
“It was good to get out and play somebody else,” he said. “We had five scrimmages where we brought officials in, but that’s totally different. Tomorrow we’ll come back and get tested at 10, watch film at 11 and then we’ll practice.”
Both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the third quarter, but it was the defense for the Bulls in the fourth quarter that gave them their largest lead of the game.
After allowing the Dolphins to shoot 60% from three, the Bulls locked in on defense and kept Jacksonville scoreless from 3-point range and 22% from the field.
With a dominant win, the Bulls will find themselves facing some of the best teams in the country next. They have Baylor and Mississippi State coming up on Tuesday and Saturday.
USF is the favorite to win the AAC and is tabbed with high expectations, but the players are taking it one game at a time.
“We have to keep it day by day,” Brabencova said. “Everyone expects a lot from us, but we need stay on the direction where we’re going, and we have to work hard every day.”