USF

Bulls Roll Past Green Wave in Conference Opener

January 04, 2017
By  USF

By TOM ZEBOLD

USF Senior Writer

NEW ORLEANS, JAN. 4, 2017 – Four Bulls scored in double figures to help USF open American Athletic Conference play with a 62-53 road win at Tulane on Wednesday night.

USF (12-1, 1-0) snapped Tulane’s 11-game home winning streak that dated back to Feb. 3 of last season. Leading the way once again was junior Maria Jespersen, who posted her sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior Laia Flores (Mataro, Spain) showcased her all-around game with 10 points, six steals and five assists. Sophomore Kitija Laksa (Riga, Latvia) posted 12 points and seven rebounds, while senior Ariadna Pujol (Mataro, Spain) added 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Conference freshman of the week Tamara Henshaw (Palm Coast, Fla.) finished with a game-high 11 rebounds to boost the Bulls to a 46-36 edge on the boards.

Tulane (10-5, 1-1) was held well below its season scoring average of 66.5 points in the program’s first home loss in eight games this season.

Laksa scored nine points in a first half that saw the Bulls lead for more than 17 minutes on the way to a 26-25 advantage by the break.

Tulane took the lead in the first minute of the second half, starting on a 4-0 run, before the Bulls heated up. Jespersen made a pair of layups during a 9-0 run that swung the lead back in USF’s favor, 35-29, less than six minutes into the action.

USF’s lead grew to 49-36 thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by Jespersen less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. USF led by double digits until Tulane hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining.

Key Stats

46 – USF outrebounded an opponent for the 12th time this season, finishing with a 46-36 advantage on the boards. The Bulls came in averaging 45.9 rebounds per game.

14 – USF continued to spread the ball around, totaling 14 assists on 24 field goals. Laia Flores ldished out five assists and Ariadna Pujol had four.

8 – USF brought its defense to New Orleans and grabbed eight steals. Laia Flores led the way with six steals.

Notables

- Head coach Jose Fernandez is now only three wins away from reaching 300 in his career. Only two active coaches in The American have accomplished the feat.

- USF improved to 3-1 in American Athletic Conference openers and 3-0 in true road games this season.

- USF has won the past six meetings with Tulane, which owns a 19-15 advantage in the all-time series.

Up Next

USF returns to the Sun Dome to host Tulsa on Saturday at 7 p.m. Reserve your seats at USFBullsTix.com.

To stay up-to-date on the latest USF women’s’ basketball news, follow the Bulls on social media (Twitter | Facebook | Instagram).

The Bulls return eight players from last season, and have signed six newcomers to the roster. American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Kitija Laksa will lead a squad full of international flavor that boasts nine players from around the world.  USF will look to extend its postseason streak to five consecutive seasons and return to the conference championship for the third time in as many years.

USF has made 12 postseason tournament appearances and had four NCAA Tournament berths in Head Coach Jose Fernandez’s 16 seasons. The all-time winningest coach in program history, Fernandez has guided USF to seven 20-win seasons, two WNIT final four appearances, the 2009 WNIT championship and won more than 280 games.

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