TAMPA — From recruiting coordinator, to months later head coach, to 22 seasons later a milestone.
Happy 400th victory, Jose Fernandez.
The USF women’s coach reached the mark Friday night as Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu scored a game-high 19 to lead the No. 16 Bulls past High Point 62-46 at the Yuengling Center.
Fernandez, who in November 2000 was elevated from recruiting coordinator to coach after just months at USF, took over a moribund program that hadn’t finished better than one-game over .500 since moving to Division I in 1982.
After going 4-24 in his first season in 2000, Fernandez has helped the Bulls to seven NCAA Tournament bids, 16 postseason appearances in the past 17 years, and nine 20-victory seasons. His record is now 400-279.
“I’ve been here a long time,” Fernandez, 50, dead-panned after the game. “I should have a lot of wins.”
The Bulls (8-3) missed their first seven shots and committed two turnovers in the first five minutes as High Point (3-6) scored eight of the first nine points. But USF closed the quarter on a 13-4 run to take a two-point lead.
The Panthers’ Nakyah Terrell made a layup to open the scoring in the second quarter and tie it at 14, but Bethy Mununga answered with a 3 and the Bulls led the rest of the way.
Mununga shot 6-of-8 from the field and finished with 16 points for USF. Elena Tsineke added 14 points and five assists, and Elisa Pinzan had a game-high 10 assists.
Jensen Edwards made 7 of 11 overall, and was 3-of-4 from 3-point range, to finish with 17 points for High Point. The rest of the Panthers shot just 21 percent (8-of-38) from the field.