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Under-staffed USF women win third in a row

Despite only nine players, the Bulls roll past George Washington at the Yuengling Center.
Besieged by attrition this season, USF suited up only nine players for Sunday's game against George Washington at the Yuengling Center. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
Besieged by attrition this season, USF suited up only nine players for Sunday's game against George Washington at the Yuengling Center. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
Published Dec. 9, 2018|Updated Dec. 9, 2018

TAMPA — The most profound roster depletion of USF women's coach Jose Fernandez's 18-plus seasons hasn't caught up with the Bulls yet.

For now, they continue subsisting with only nine players, as evidenced by Sunday afternoon's 63-30 rout of 2018 NCAA Tournament qualifier George Washington (2-8) before an announced Yuengling Center audience of 2,081.

USF (7-2) has won three in a row despite losing three players to injury (including All-America candidate Kitija Laksa) and watching two others — wing Vanessa Blagmon and freshman Iris Tsafara — transfer. Of the injured trio, only heralded freshman point guard Elisa Pinzan (unspecified) is expected back this season.

"Every day's like a surprise," Fernandez said. "I go, 'How many healthy bodies we got?' We've got more male scrimmage guys than we have players, but that's okay. We've just got to find different ways."

On Sunday, third-year sophomore Enna Pehadzic, a veteran of three knee surgeries, and 6-foot-3 freshman Beatriz Jordao scored 14 points each to lead the healthy Bulls contingent (a relative term these days). Defensively, senior Laura Ferreira held Colonials scoring leader Mei-Lyn Bautista without a point.

"I know it doesn't come out in the stat sheet, but I thought (Ferreira) really did a great job defending and had seven assists," Fernandez said. "I think Laura's size (5-foot-11) and physicality probably bothered (Bautista) a little."

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