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Bulls hold Tulsa thanks to special Tsineke performance

Sophomore guard Elena Tsineke led the charge for USF in Wednesday’s win against Tulsa, scoring a season-high 30 points. ORACLE PHOTO/FRANCISCO ROSA

After being mostly contained against UCF on Sunday, sophomore guard Elena Tsineke put on a season-best performance Wednesday night as USF women’s basketball took down Tulsa 66-63 at the Yuengling Center.

Tsineke took over from tipoff, pouring 30 points, one shy of her career high, on 10-of-24 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from three. But no points were more valuable than her last two, a pair of free throws to give the Bulls (13-5, 3-1 AAC) the lead with 13 seconds remaining.

“Tonight I had the mentality of being fearless,” Tsineke said. “Sometimes we just get caught up and just forget the things that we actually do. So, I really made that call today to bounce back for my team because that’s who I am.”

Early on, Tulsa lived up to its billing as one of the best offensive teams in the conference. The Golden Hurricane came into Tuesday’s game averaging 74.7 points per game, the best in the AAC.

Led by sophomore guard Wyvette Mayberry, Tulsa poured in 36 first-half points on an efficient 43% shooting from the field and 50% from the three as it took a five-point lead into the locker room. 

Mayberry had 17 points of her own in the first 20 minutes. She’d ultimately finish with a team-high 23 points.

“Our school mascot is the bulls, we could have been matadors because they were just driving right by us,” coach Jose Fernandez said of his team’s early defensive effort. “We could not keep the ball in front and that’s just sitting down and containing and taking people’s hand [away] that we wanted to force them to.

“They went right and they got to the rim at will. They got everything they wanted.”

Tulsa’s lead grew to as many as 10 points with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter, but saw it dwindle down to six entering the fourth, where the Bulls took over.

In the final quarter, USF shut down the Golden Hurricane’s offense, holding them scoreless for more than five minutes and outscored them 18-9 to close out the game. Tulsa shot just 20% from the field and 0% from three over the final ten minutes.

Despite the Bulls’ stout defense, Tulsa still managed to take back a 63-62 lead with 20 seconds remaining thanks to a second-chance layup from freshman forward Temira Poindexter.

It took clutch free throws from Tsineke as well as redshirt freshman guard Mihaela Lazic to seal the victory.

Along with Tsineke, redshirt senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu put in another impressive performance with 17 points and 11 rebounds, her first double-double as a Bull. 

Mendjiadeu has been on a bit of a tear recently, scoring in double figures in each of the last three games. She attributes her success to getting over her past mistakes.

“I just realized that making mistakes is common for everybody,” Mendjiadeu said. “[Before] if I made a mistake, I’d let it affect the whole game. But now I’ve decided that I’ll make a mistake for sure, but I’ll just let it go.”

Also of note, Wednesday’s victory marked USF’s 700th in program history. The team will look to add to that tally Saturday afternoon as they welcome Temple to the Yuengling Center.

The Bulls will meet the Owls in a 3 p.m. tipoff streamed on ESPN+ and iHeartRadio Bulls Unlimited.