TAMPA — Playing on the same homecourt just a few hours apart, the USF women’s and men’s teams were a study in contrast Wednesday — one keeping up the heat (women) and one icy cold (men).
The women finished the night with a thorough thumping of Wichita State 66-48, emphasizing the Bulls’ legitimacy as the nation’s No. 18-ranked team.
The men, meantime, started the evening with a 61-51 loss to Tulsa, making many wonder when the Bulls will find some consistency.
The games couldn’t have had more different vibes, especially when it came to finding a comfortable rhythm.
The USF women (8-1, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) eased right in, jumping to a 12-3 lead in the first quarter and never letting up the rest of the way, holding a 27-18 advantage at halftime and a 47-34 lead after three quarters.
Brightest highlight? That would have to be Bulls guard Elena Tsineke, who scored a career-high 31, eclipsing her previous best of 25 against Tulsa last year. The other would probably be USF’s overall shooting, which was 43.4 percent from the field and 46.2 from 3-point range (12-of-26).
“It was great to see (Tsineke) have that kind of night because she has worked hard to get it,” Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said. “It was also nice to see them come from high-percentage shots.”
His team’s overall defense was also pretty good, holding the Shockers (3-5, 0-3) to a 29.2 shooting from the field.
Relatively, the USF men struggled to find bright spots, which was perplexing after it pulled off a solid 68-61 victory over rival UCF on Saturday and had been shooting well the past few games, increasing their 3-point shooting to a league-leading 37 percent.
On Wednesday, the Bulls made only 3 of 22 shots from 3-point range (13.6 percent) and 18 of 55 from the field (32.7).
Specifically, three of their top four scorers — including leading scorer David Collins, Alexis Yetna and Justin Brown — didn’t score a point until Yetna made a layup with 2:49 left in the game. In the end, Collins, Yetna and Brown — who came in averaging a combined 34 points — finished with a combined four points, all by Yetna.
Collins’ troubles came partly because he was in foul trouble throughout the game (finishing with four fouls), while Brown was just plain off, missing all 10 of his attempts, including 0-for-9 from 3, causing even more head-scratching. In his previous seven games, Brown shot 56 percent from long range (14-of-25). Coming into Wednesday’s game, he ranked seventh in the conference from 3, shooting 44.7 percent.
Despite all that, USF (6-5, 2-3) cut the gap on Tulsa (7-3, 4-1) to 46-40 with seven minutes remaining and had a chance to trim the deficit to three when Brown missed a wide-open 3 with 6:48 left.
The Golden Hurricane followed in the next few minutes with a 7-0 run and basically put the game out of reach.
“We’re just not getting to that next step (of consistency and cohesion),” Bulls coach Brian Gregory said. “We’re going to have to keep fighting to get there.”
Gregory said he saw some good things, including a career-high 16 points for Jamir Chaplin off the bench and a solid ending to the first half, after starting so slowly (scoring only 11 points through the game’s first 14 minutes).
“But then we didn’t respond to start the second half,” Gregory said, referring to the Golden Hurricane’s 9-0 run after intermission and his team’s season-low 27 points in the second half.
The victory pushed Tulsa’s career record against USF to 10-0.