Leading USF women’s basketball to its 90-50 victory over Florida A&M on Friday was senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, who scored a career-high 26 points — 20 of which came in the first half.
In the opening quarter, she crossed her 1,000 career point mark. She was determined to reach that benchmark after missing it by a point in the season opener against Morehead State on Nov. 7.
Fankam Mendjiadeu scored USF’s first three baskets of the game and dominated the Rattlers’ defense throughout the period. She was also aggressive in getting to the free throw line and hit eight of her 10 attempts.
Fernandez gave credit to her poise that helped her score in the post throughout the contest.
“Dulcy had a really nice game,” Fernandez said. “She finished around the basket and she was patient when she got [the ball].”
Puisis followed Fankam Mendjiadeu with 20 points and shot 6-for-12 from the three-point line. Senior guard Elena Tsineke had 14 points and dished out seven assists.
Although South Florida did well in the paint, the team struggled to hit their three-pointers throughout most of the first quarter until junior guard Sammie Puisis scored one at the end of the quarter, giving the Bulls a 24-16 lead.
After allowing 16 points in the first quarter, USF’s defense clamped down on FAMU in the second. The Rattlers were held to eight points and any chance for them to get back in the game was stifled by the Bulls defensive activity, forcing seven turnovers throughout the period.
FAMU found its rhythm in the third quarter, scoring 20 points, but the deficit was too much to overcome at that point in the game. South Florida had a 70-44 lead going into the final quarter.
Defensively, the Bulls ability to force turnovers broke the game open for them. USF generated 32 points from FAMU’s 27 turnovers. Fernandez thought the sets they ran pressured the Rattlers to make mistakes.
“I think what we did in our pick and roll [when the player sets a screen then moves towards basket] coverage was we brought help from different areas and that bothered them a little bit,” Fernandez said.
On the offensive end, South Florida was unaffected by any defensive sets the Rattlers tried to run, scoring at least 20 points in each quarter. USF also finished the contest shooting 54.7% from the field and 39.7% from three-point range.
While the Bulls’ offensive firepower has been on full display throughout the first two games of their campaign, being more consistent on defense is the next step for them. Despite the blowout, Fernandez was able to recall moments in the game where their defense was lackluster.
“I thought our baseline and out of bounds defense was atrocious tonight, it was bad,” he said. “And that’s usually a strength for us.”
Fernandez and his squad will use the next two days to work on their defensive consistency before the next game against Jacksonville.
“We got to demand of each other staff players, including how important every single possession is,” Fernandez said. “That’s what great teams do. So we gotta make sure we’re doing that and seeing tape and then working out in practice.”
The Bulls will be back at the Yuengling Center to face Jacksonville on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.