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Bulls women back on track...for now

USF women's coach Jose Fernandez's team earned its 16th victory Wednesday night at SMU.

Travis Pendergrass | Special to the Times

USF women's coach Jose Fernandez's team earned its 16th victory Wednesday night at SMU.

26

January

If Wednesday night's proceedings in Dallas are any sign, the 23rd-ranked Bulls women can, in fact, withstand some contact.

And criticism.

Three days after being blasted by Coach Jose Fernandez for their lack of physicality in a 14-point home loss to No. 9 Louisville, the Bulls (16-3, 5-1) responded -- somewhat -- with a 52-51 triumph at SMU (11-9, 2-5).

Sophomore Kitija Laksa, held to five points against the Cardinals, scored 28 and went to the free-throw line five times -- one off her season high.

"When I was talking to our team I challenged our toughnesss, and they responded," Fernandez said Thursday morning.

Facing a frontcourt rotation of players standing 6-foot-6, 6-5 and 6-3, USF finished with a 45-34 rebounding edge. Also worth noting: The Bulls' 16 personal fouls were only five off their season-high.

Perhaps fittingly, the game ended with SMU trying to go inside on its final possession but being forced to kick the ball out for a 3-pointer that missed. PG Laia Flores got the rebound with three seconds to play.

"The one thing we stressed was the glass," Fernandez said. "And I thought we went to the glass on the offensive end, and we out-rebounded a very big SMU team by 11."

Not that all concerns have been purged. The Bulls are 8-of-33 from 3-point range in their last two games, and still must get to the free-throw line far more often (nine attempts Wednesday). Increased bench production going forward also is a prerequisite.

Still, the Bulls probably feel a bit better about themselves heading into Sunday's showdown at Temple (16-3, 6-0) in a battle of top-35 RPI teams.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 26, 2017 1:02pm]

    

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