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USF women’s basketball is turning 50. So is its most successful coach

The green-and-golden anniversary season of Bulls women’s hoops tips off Tuesday.
 
USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez is embraced by guard Enna Pehadzic after clinching his 300th career victory at the school with a 79-49 home rout of Memphis on Jan. 17, 2017.
USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez is embraced by guard Enna Pehadzic after clinching his 300th career victory at the school with a 79-49 home rout of Memphis on Jan. 17, 2017.
Published Nov. 4, 2021|Updated Nov. 4, 2021

TAMPA — A milestone month is set to tip off at USF.

The 50th season of Bulls women’s basketball commences Tuesday, when arguably the deepest team of Jose Fernandez’s 22 seasons debuts at home against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Nine days after that, Fernandez turns 50.

We couldn’t let those occasions go by unnoticed. In observance of the program and its most successful coach hitting the half-century mark, we’ve compiled a numerical reflection of Bulls women’s hoops, from 1 to 50.

1

Conference titles won by the program (in the 2020-21 season)

2

American Athletic Conference coach-of-the-year honors won by Fernandez (2018, 2021)

3

Conferences in which USF has played (Conference USA, Big East, American Athletic) during Fernandez’s tenure

4

NCAA Tournament games won by the Bulls, all on Fernandez’s watch

USF's Jose Fernandez was named American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2021.
USF's Jose Fernandez was named American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2021. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

5

USF players selected in the WNBA draft during Fernandez’s tenure. Also number of girls raised by Fernandez (two daughters, three step-daughters) and his wife of 14 years, Tonya

6

Consecutive 20-win seasons posted by USF in the previous decade (2012-2018)

7

NCAA Tournament berths earned by the Bulls, all on Fernandez’s watch

8

Career 30-point games recorded by guard Courtney Williams, also the No. 8 overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft

Former guard Courtney Williams (10) was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft.
Former guard Courtney Williams (10) was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft.

9

WNIT appearances made by USF under Fernandez (the Bulls won the WNIT in 2009)

10

Countries represented on USF’s 2021-2022 roster. They include Italy, Greece, Belgium, Croatia and Venezuela

11

Consecutive 3-pointers made by Kitija Laksa (still an NCAA record) against Southern University on Dec. 15, 2017

12

Steals by Andrell Smith vs. Creighton (still a USF record) on Dec. 22, 2012

13

Points allowed (fewest in program history) in a 40-point win vs. Eckerd in the 1974-75 season.

14

Seasons in which associate head coach Michele Woods-Baxter has been on the staff

15

Postseason appearances made by USF in a 16-season stretch prior to 2019-20, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of March Madness

Point guard Andrell Smith reacts as USF is announced as the No. 10 seed in the Spokane region of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Bulls' first tournament bid since 2006. [Times files (2013)]
Point guard Andrell Smith reacts as USF is announced as the No. 10 seed in the Spokane region of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Bulls' first tournament bid since 2006. [Times files (2013)]
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16

All-time USF victories against ranked opponents

17

Assists by Laia Flores vs. Florida International (USF’s single-game record) on Nov. 30, 2016

18

Field goals made by Wanda Guyton vs. West Florida (USF’s single-game record) on Jan. 26, 1987

19

Combined national titles won by Tennessee and Connecticut, both of whom USF could play in a seven-day span in November. (The Bulls play at UT on Nov. 15 and could play UConn on Day 2 of the Battle 4 Atlantis in The Bahamas on Nov. 21).

20

Career double-doubles for Bulls 6-foot senior Bethy Mununga, a first-team All-AAC pick last season

21

USF’s ranking in the 2021-22 Associated Press preseason poll

22

Points scored by guard Elena Tsineke (a team-high) vs. top-seeded N.C. State in last season’s NCAA Tournament defeat

23

Free throws attempted by Aiya Shepard (still a USF record) vs. Southern Miss on Feb. 16, 2003. Shepard made 17.

USF's Aiya Shepard (33) moves around Connecticut's Ann Strother (43) and Jessica Moore (31) during a during a 2002 game in Tampa. [Times files (2002)]
USF's Aiya Shepard (33) moves around Connecticut's Ann Strother (43) and Jessica Moore (31) during a during a 2002 game in Tampa. [Times files (2002)]

24

1,000-point scorers in program history

25

Rebounds by Guyton vs. Mercer (still the Bulls’ single-game record) on Dec. 1, 1987

26

Win total of 2017-18 team, which earned the program’s fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth

27

Wins posted by the 2008-09 and 2014-15 teams, tied for USF’s single-season record. The 2009 team won the WNIT.

28

Points scored by the Bulls (still a program-low) against Florida in the school’s second game ever. The Gators, however, scored only 24.

29

Fernandez’s age when he officially was named Bulls coach in December 2000, replacing Jerry Ann Winters (he had been the interim coach for several weeks, following Winters’ suspension)

30

Bulls wins vs. UCF in 46 all-time meetings

31

Points scored by Courtney Williams in win vs. Colorado State in 2016, a USF record for an NCAA Tournament game

32

Games USF has played against Connecticut (the Bulls still are seeking their first win against the Huskies)

33

Jersey number of Laksa, who finished her Bulls career second in 3-point percentage (.391) and first in free-throw percentage (.896)

Latvia native Kitija Laksa is widely considered the best 3-point shooter in USF women's basketball history.
Latvia native Kitija Laksa is widely considered the best 3-point shooter in USF women's basketball history. [ Times ]

34

Points scored by Shantia Grace vs. Florida Gulf Coast in a 2008 WNIT defeat, a USF record for a postseason contest

35

Distance (in feet) of Jessica Dickson’s desperation 3-point heave to end the first overtime vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 2, 2004. USF won, 89-84, in two OTs.

36

Points scored by Dickson in that wild victory against Texas Tech. Dickson remains the program’s career scoring leader (2,402 points).

USF's Jessica Dickson, who hit one of the most memorable shots in Bulls women's hoops history (vs. Texas Tech in 2004) remains the program's career scoring leader.
USF's Jessica Dickson, who hit one of the most memorable shots in Bulls women's hoops history (vs. Texas Tech in 2004) remains the program's career scoring leader. [ BRIAN CASSELLA | St. Petersburg Times ]

37

Fernandez’s age when he led the 2008-09 team to the WNIT championship

38

Points scored by Laksa vs. SMU on Jan. 7, 2016, a single-game record for a Bulls freshman

39

Points scored by Janae Stokes vs. Grambling on Dec. 18, 2008, a single-game record for a Bulls junior

40

Total wins (in four seasons) collected by Janie Cheatham, first coach in program history (1972-1976)

41

Overtime games in program history (The Bulls are 28-13 in those contests).

42

Total road losses suffered by USF in its last 10 seasons (for context, see No. 45)

43

Free throws made (in 49 attempts) last season by Tsineke, whose free-throw percentage (.878) led USF

USF guard Elena Tsineke (5) shoots a free throw in the first quarter against Wichita State at the Yuengling Center last January. Tsineke missed only six free throws in 49 attempts last season.
USF guard Elena Tsineke (5) shoots a free throw in the first quarter against Wichita State at the Yuengling Center last January. Tsineke missed only six free throws in 49 attempts last season. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

44

Points scored by Grace vs. Coppin State (still the Bulls’ single-game record) on Nov. 23, 2008

45

Road losses suffered by USF in Fernandez’s first five seasons (2000-2005)

46

Offensive rebounds totaled by USF in a 1990 win vs. George Washington, a school record that stood for 25 years

47

Points allowed by USF in a 24-point road triumph against Ohio State in the 2018-19 opener

48

Bulls single-game record for field goals (vs. UPR Mayaguez, 2005; Saint Francis, 2016)

49

Career starts for Memphis transfer Aerial Wilson, who adds even more depth to a loaded 2021-22 USF frontcourt

50

Age Fernandez turns on Nov. 18

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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