Much of South Florida women’s basketball’s success this season can be attributed to the team’s veteran players. However, their younger members should also be recognized for their contributions in the Bulls’ undefeated conference play, as many have shown solid performances.
Of the five freshmen USF signed on this past summer, here’s a look at the top performers of the 2022-23 season.
Wing Carla Brito
Freshman wing Carla Brito is the Bulls’ most significant contributor outside the trio of senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, junior guard Sammie Puisis and senior guard Elena Tsineke.
Brito averages 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game and has started all 21 games this season. She has also garnered recognition from the American Athletic Conference for her performance, racking up three Freshman of the Week awards throughout the season.
Defensively, Brito is one of the most productive players on the roster. She averages one steal per game, which is the second best on the team.
As outstanding as Brito’s play has been, the next step for her is to limit her turnovers. On Jan. 18 versus Houston, she had four turnovers despite only playing seven minutes. She has had nine games where she finished with three or more turnovers.
However, as long as she maintains her strong trajectory, she could be one of USF’s key contributors for years to come.
Forward Daniela Gonzalez
Freshman forward Daniela Gonzalez has earned consistent minutes in the Bulls’ second unit during all 21 games.
Gonzalez averages under 17 minutes per game. In that time, she averaged four points and three rebounds in each outing. On Nov. 25 against New Hampshire, she scored a career-high nine points off the bench.
She has six blocked shots, the fifth highest on the team. Gonzalez also places seventh in steals with a total of six.
The Bulls have relied more heavily on the freshman forward as the season has progressed. Through the last 10 contests, Gonzalez has played over 20 minutes in five of them and started in the Dec. 17 win over La Salle. She played a career-high 33 minutes against conference foe Houston.
She should see more games like these in the future as long as she maintains her defensive abilities and becomes more consistent offensively.
Forward/Center Emma Johansson
In the Nov. 7 season opener against Morehead State, freshman forward and center Emma Johansson notched career highs in both points and rebounds with nine and six respectively. However, in the games since then, her minutes have dwindled.
While Johansson averages just under two points and two rebounds per game in 8.4 minutes of playing time, she has shown flashes of consistent production when given more opportunities, particularly on the defensive end. Johansson amassed six rebounds and a career-high five blocks on Jan. 7 against Wichita State.
Along with her strong defensive abilities, Johansson does show the willingness to space the floor and shoot threes. In limited attempts, she is shooting just under 38% outside the arc.
Time will tell if she can play her way into a larger role in the rotation, especially when USF has to dig deeper into its lineup during tournament season.
Women’s basketball returns to the Yuengling Center for the War on I-4 game against UCF on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and Bulls Unlimited Radio.