TAMPA, JAN. 7, 2017 – Exactly one year ago to the day, Kitija Laksa turned in the best performance of any freshman in USF history scoring 38 points. Saturday night against Tulsa, Laksa was on the verge of a new career high, but settled for 37 points in the University of South Florida women’s basketball team’s 84-68 win over the Golden Hurricane at the Sun Dome Arena.
Laksa (Riga, Latvia) finished 7-for-14 from behind the arc and 13-for-25 from the field in one of the best shooting performances of the season. The Bulls (13-1, 2-0 The American) extended their home win streak to 12 consecutive games, and improved to 6-0 in the Sun Dome this season.
Laksa accounted for seven of the team’s 10 three-pointers and just under half of the team’s points. The sophomore added five rebounds and one steal in 39 minutes of action. Laksa tallied 24 of her points in the first half, and only missed three of her nine three-point attempts.
Maria Jespersen (Arhus, Denmark) turned in her fourth consecutive double-double thanks to 20 points and 12 rebounds. Jespersen shot 44 percent from the floor (8-of-18) and 50 percent from deep (3-of-6). The junior added a game high four offensive rebounds and two assists. Freshman Tamara Henshaw (Palm Coast, Fla.) continued to battle in the paint, grabbing nine rebounds. Ariadna Pujol (Mataro, Spain) turned in a solid stat line with nine points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals while Laia Flores (Mataro, Spain) added nine assists and six points.
The Bulls never trailed and held Tulsa (5-11, 1-2 The American) to just 23 points in the first half. With a 13-point lead at the break, USF stretched its lead to 24 by the fourth quarter. Jespersen scored 13 of her 20 points in the final 20 minutes.
42- USF outrebounded its opponent for the 13th time this season, grabbing 42 rebounds. The Bulls excelled on the offensive glass, doubling Tulsa’s seven rebounds with 14 offensive boards.
9 – Flores dished out a game-high nine assists, just one assist shy of her second career double-digit assist outing. Flores’ 245 career assists cracks the top-15 program career record.
84 – USF scored 84 points, marking the fifth time this season the team has tallied 80-plus points. The Bulls are 5-0 when scoring at least 80.
Jespersen has recorded four consecutive double-doubles becoming the first person since Alisia Jenkins to string together four double-double outings since she accomplished the feat in February of 2015. Jespersen’s six double-doubles this year ties Shanice Johnson (Cincinnati) as the most in the league this season.
Head coach Jose Fernandez notched is 298th career win. Fernandez is already the winningest coach in USF history (298-227) and with two wins he will become the third active coach in the American Athletic Conference to reach 300 career wins.
The Bulls extend their home win streak to 12 consecutive games. USF has not dropped a home contest in the Sun Dome Arena since hosting No. 1 UConn Jan. 10, 2016. USF’s home record over the past three seasons improved to 34-4.
USF travels to Hartford, Conn. to take on its first top-25 opponent this season. The Bulls will face No. 1 UConn at the XL Center Tuesday. The pair will face off for the 21st time in program history.
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.
To purchase season tickets, contact the USF Ticket Office at 1-800-Go-Bulls or by going online to USFBullsTix.com.