Despite shooting just 30% as a team (19-of-63) and some late foul trouble, the #23 USF Bulls escaped with a 61-55 win over LSU in the season opener at the Sun Dome on Friday night.
“They’ve been excited. Maybe they were a big too excited to play,” head coach Jose Fernandez said. “This game wasn’t going to define our season either way, but it’s good for us to get a win like this early in the season.”
Leading 25-20 with just over one minute remaining in the second quarter, USF had only two players on the score sheet: Kitija Laksa and Maria Jespersen. Both accounted for all of the Bulls 25 points until freshman Shae Leverett added a late layup.
“There is a lot of experience out there on the floor. A big part was how we came out of timeouts and we ran some designed stuff to score, it was a great team win,” Fernandez added.
Jespersen led all Bulls with 20 points and added nine rebounds. Laksa finished right behind with 16 points, also tallying 9 boards.
Back at full strength after playing in only nine games due to injury last season, senior Laura Ferreira only had seven points, but led all Bulls with 10 rebounds and was praised afterwards for her defensive effort.
“She didn’t shoot the ball well, but the stat sheet doesn’t tell how much she means to us because of how she defended,” Fernandez added.
Ferreira held LSU’s top scorer, and most dangerous offensive threat, Raigyne Louis, to 11 points.
“I was nervous at first but we got the win,” Ferreira said. “They are a very physical team, but we boxed them out. I think the experience we have was a big factor in winning this game. We might not win this one last season.”
USF returns to the Sun Dome on Sunday afternoon for a 2 p.m tip against Houston Baptist.