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USF honors seniors, watches them shine in win against Cincy

By Joey Knight
USF women's coach Jose Fernandez is flanked by seniors Laia Flores (left) and Maria Jespersen during ceremony honoring the pair prior to Saturday's 84-65 victory against Cincinnati. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)

What began as an emotional senior night segued into a methodical senior showcase for the 18th-ranked USF women Saturday.

Six-foot Denmark native Maria Jespersen notched her 17th double-double of the season (26 points, 16 rebounds) while fellow senior Laia Flores totaled 12 assists to lift the Bulls (24-5, 13-2) to an 84-65 romp of Cincinnati (17-11, 9-6) before an announced Sun Dome crowd of 2,574.

USF, winner of nine in a row, plays Monday night at top-ranked Connecticut.

Jespersen and Flores, honored with their families during a poignant pregame ceremony, will become the first class in the program's 46-year history to reach four NCAA Tournaments. With one more triumph, the pair also becomes the first class to record 100 career victories.

Jespersen scored the last five points during a critical 12-2 run to close the first half, then opened the third period with a 3-pointer to give USF a 46-30 lead. She has recorded double-doubles in each of her last five games.