Women’s basketball obtains victory in conference home opener

Senior guard Elena Tsineke marked her third straight game scoring 20 points or more. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

South Florida women’s basketball rang in the new year with its second conference win against Temple 77-55 at the Yuengling Center on Tuesday night.

The game serves as the Bulls’ (13-4, 2-0 AAC) 16th overall victory against the Owls (6-8, 1-1 AAC), which they owe to their fast-paced offense and an improved defense in the second half that ended their slow start.

Senior guard Elena Tsineke led the Bulls with a new season high of 27 points scored in a single game. Junior guard Sammie Puisis also assisted with 17 points.

Tsineke quickly put USF on the board with a layup during the first minute of the game. Puisis helped extend the Bulls’ early lead 5-0 with her first shot beyond the arc. However, the Owls quickly caught up and began exchanging points, allowing no more than a seven point deficit in scoring.

The Owls closed out the first period scoring eight points, taking the lead 16-15.

The competitive nature of the game carried into the second period. The largest deficit allowed was 33-28 in the last minutes of the period with USF in the lead.

Temple’s junior guard Tarriyonna Gary shot a three-pointer during the beginning of the third period to tie the score 33-33. However, USF bounced back with a scoring drive. Freshman wing Carla Brito, Tsineke and Puisis collectively scored 13 points, raising the score 46-37 and giving the Bulls the momentum to win the game.

Puisis said the team had a much different spark with moving the ball in the last two periods.

“Coming out of the locker room we just came out with more energy, more intensity,” Puisis said. “We were in [a] good stance on defense. We moved the ball better, got it inside and outside on offense so we really did a lot different.”

Coach Jose Fernandez said he has noticed the continuous development in Tsineke abilities, especially after she invested in improving her game over the summer.

“I think she’s knocking down open shots,” Fernandez said. “I think she’s reading pick and roll situations really, really well….she’s doing a much better job reading the post play. I think her shot selection has totally improved.”

Despite the added success in conference play, Fernandez was only pleased with USF’s performance in the second half.

“It doesn’t feel like a 22 point win just because of how we played that first half,” Fernandez said.

“What are really good teams really good at? They don’t turn the ball over, they shoot well from the free throw line and they rebound the ball really [well]. In the second half I thought we did that.”

Fernandez said the Bulls gave up too many offensive rebounds which is what they’ll need to work on before facing Wichita State Saturday. The Shockers’ 8-1 record marks the best start in the program’s history.

“We gotta get ready for Wichita…and do what we need to do,” Fernandez said.

The Bulls will travel to Charles Koch Arena to face Wichita State on Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.