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