By Tom Zebold
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – The Bulls looked quite comfortable in one of their homes away from home Tuesday night.
Kaneisha Saunders led three players in double figures with 14 points and the USF women’s basketball team cruised past North Florida, 76-41, before a home opener crowd of 577 at the USF Recreation Center.
“I’m looking forward to next year playing in the Sun Dome, but then again this rec center isn’t too bad,” Saunders said. “The fans are right there. The band is right there, so it’s a nice win for us to get at home.”
USF (2-2) looked most comfortable in the first half when the Bulls tied a season high with seven 3-pointers on the way to grabbing a 41-16 advantage.
Andrell Smith, who finished with 10 points, fired the first 3-pointer to give the Bulls a 7-5 lead. USF never trailed from there and broke the game open with a 17-0 run later in the first period.
North Florida (0-2) made only seven field goals in the first half and committed 11 turnovers.
“We came out and set the tone defensively early,” USF head coach Jose Fernandez said. “I think that fed our early offense and our transition.”
The pace of the game slowed down in the second half, but not the Bulls’ offensive production. USF shot 46 percent from the field and got 12 points from Saunders – 10 straight at one point.
“With a team like this, you really don’t really want to force anything. I just found my open shots,” she said.
Tiffany Conner also stepped up for USF and came off the bench to score 12 points. A total of 10 different Bulls scored and every member of the team that was available saw time.
“I like how we’re sharing the basketball and we’re trusting the help behind us,” Fernandez said.
Tuesday’s game marked the Bulls’ fourth in five days and they ended up with their highest point and largest margin of victory yet this season.
“We come back with only one day of rest and play as hard as we played today,” Fernandez said. “I was very pleased with that.”
The Bulls return to the USF Recreation Center 7 p.m. Thursday for another in-state battle against Bethune-Cookman.