TAMPA — In its final home game of a historic regular season, the USF women’s basketball team finished with a red-hot shooting night and a season high for points while running away from Tulsa, 93-83 Wednesday at Yuengling Center.
The victory pushed USF’s record to 25-5 and 14-1 in the American Athletic Conference, assuring head coach Jose Fernandez his best conference winning percentage in his 23 seasons with the Bulls no matter what happens in their final game March 1 at Cincinnati.
Most importantly, Fernandez said, the Bulls feel good heading into the final stretch, which will include a No. 1 seed for the conference tournament beginning March 6 in Forth Worth, Texas.
“The next few days are going to be just about us with some individual workouts and keep up with our conditioning and expand our playbook with some new stuff,” Fernandez said. “We have done well, and though I’d rather be (15-0 in the conference) we will get ready for Cincinnati and then get ready to win three games in Forth Worth.”
Fernandez made a point to praise his two seniors, guard Elena Tsineke and forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, who were honored with a pregame ceremony and a postgame standing ovation for what is almost assuredly their last home game (barring a long-shot chance of hosting a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament).
“First and foremost, (Tsineke and Fankam Mendjiadeu) are great students, teammates and just wonderful people,” Fernandez said. “They come and they work hard, and I never have to get on them about anything. They are a coaches’ dream, and I really, really enjoy being around them.”
In Wednesday’s game, both were, once again, solid.
Mendjiadeu, who is averaging 16.7 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, finished with her 23rd double-double (25 points and 13 rebounds). Tsineke, the team’s leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, contributed 15 points and nine assists.
Add hot-shooting guard Sammie Puisis (27 points on 7-of-14 shooting from 3-point range), and the Bulls were able to hold off a fierce and solid effort from Tulsa (16-11, 6-8).
The Golden Hurricane, in fact, jumped out to a 17-6 advantage and then, after the Bulls fought back to lead 42-38 lead at halftime, kept the score close until early in the fourth quarter.
“Tulsa would not go away, and that is a credit to them,” Fernandez said. “They are a tough matchup for anybody. We shot it well (49.2 percent from the field and 42.9 on 3s), but so did they (45.8 percent from the field, 38.5 on threes).”
The Bulls have won 15 of their last 16 games but remain out of the top 25, where they stayed for two weeks before a 71-69 loss Feb. 12 against Houston, USF’s only conference loss.
“We still have more work to do,” Fankam Mendjiadeu said. “We still have more to look forward to.”
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Miguel scores 14 as USF men knock off UCF
ORLANDO — Reserve Selton Miguel scored 14 points and handed out five assists to lead the USF men’s basketball team over UCF 82-75 on Wednesday night.
Ryan Conwell added 14 points for the Bulls (12-16, 5-10 American Athletic Conference), shooting 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and 2-of-3 from the free-throw line. Keyshawn Bryant was 6-of-10 shooting (1-for-4 from distance) to finish with 13 points.
Ithiel Horton led the Knights (15-12, 6-9) with 28 points and four steals. UCF also got 18 points, 3 steals and 2 blocks from Taylor Hendricks. C.J. Kelly added 14 points.
USF took the lead for good with 4:09 remaining in the first half.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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