Bulls blowout Eagles in USF women’s basketball season opener

Junior transfer guard Sammie Puisis had a career-high 20 points in the Bulls season opener against Morehead State on Monday. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF women’s basketball dominated Morehead State in an 87-40 blowout in Monday night’s season opener at the Yuengling Center.

In the first quarter, the Bulls (1-0) hit the ground running and established themselves against the Eagles (0-1) in the paint, scoring all their first-quarter points inside and going on a 14-2 run to bring the score to 18-6.

Despite ending the first quarter with a double-digit lead, the second is when the game broke wide open for South Florida. Junior guard Sammie Puisis scored the Bulls’ first six points of the quarter and helped extend their lead 24-6.

South Florida’s active defense was able to capitalize on Morehead State’s carelessness with the basketball. They forced six turnovers in the second quarter and held the Eagles to eight points in the first half. Their activity on defense helped spark a 22-0 run to end the first half.

While the Eagles did find some rhythm during the third quarter, It was much more of the same in the second half as the Bulls forced their opponent to cough up the ball four times and only allowed 32 points in the second half.

Many USF players contributed to a winning effort, four starters finishing with double figures in scoring. Puisis led the way with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Elena Tsineke followed with 15 points.

Another player that stood out for the Bulls was senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu. She ended the game with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman wing Carla Brito had 14 points and six rebounds in her collegiate debut.

One of the big advantages USF had over Morehead State was using their size to get to the basket at will. Offensively, they scored 40 points in the paint and also got to the line regularly, hitting 19 out of 25 free throws.

This size disparity also benefited the Bulls defensively, forcing turnovers and holding the Eagles to 29.6% field goal shooting during the contest.

Another key aspect of the Bulls’ performance was their ability to share the ball, as they finished with 20 team assists. Coach Jose Fernandez highlighted just how willing his players were to share the ball and create scoring opportunities for one another.

“I thought we shared the ball really well, especially in that first half. I think 14 of our 17 baskets were assisted,” Fernandez said.

Even with how convincing Monday’s win was, Fernandez believes his team can reach an even higher level of play by getting more playing time with one another.

“We did a lot of really, really good things, [and there are] a lot of things that we need to get better at. But this team hasn’t been together for a very long time,” Fernandez said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

The Bulls’ next matchup is Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. against FAMU. The game will be at the Yuengling Center and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and BullsUnlimited