Women's hoops: Bulls win 3rd in a row
TAMPA -- Though it took longer than most anticipated, USF's women's team apparently has found a solid rotation, a collective shooting touch, and a groove.
In arguably its most complete effort of the season, the Bulls (8-7, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) got another double-double from 6-foot-1 sophomore Alisia Jenkins -- and solid minutes from nearly everyone else -- in a 64-51 triumph Tuesday against Temple (8-6, 2-2).
They'll seek their fourth consecutive victory Sunday at home against No. 5 Louisville in a
contest critical to their postseason resume.
"I feel as though we're pretty confident, we're ready," said Jenkins, who scored a career-best 18 and added 12 rebounds. "If the coaches prepare us like they did for SMU and this team and Rutgers, we'll be good."
Employing tight man-to-man defense to the perimeter's outer fringes, USF held Temple -- the
American's most efficient 3-point shooting team entering the game -- to a 3-for-12 effort
from long range.
Down by eight at the half, Temple cut its deficit to three, 40-37, on Tyonna Williams' jumper, prompting a 30-second time-out and four substitutions by Bulls coach Jose Fernandez.
The Owls didn't score for nearly five minutes after that, during which time USF rebuilt its lead. Senior Inga Orekhova's 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer gave the hosts a 45-37 lead with 12:37 to go. USF's lead never fell below six after that.
"I think our kids are starting to really buy in defensively," Fernandez said. "Too bad it's taken us 15 games...to get into this."
Meantime, the Bulls were patient and physical on the other end, finishing with a 16-9 offensive rebounding advantage and 15 second-chance points. Jenkins was complemented by a bench that outscored Temple's 25-3.
Eight Bulls scored at least three points.
"With a young bunch, I think the month of December is huge for some teams and it was huge for our team with two seniors," said Fernandez, who held roughly a half-dozen three-a-days during the month.
"Once finals ended, the amount of time we were able to work with our kids because there was no school...I think we really improved in the last three weeks."