The first USF Women’s Basketball game of the 2020 was a balanced offensive effort that ended in a 76-68 victory over Cincinnati to kick off conference play. The Bulls (9-6, 1-0) secured their sixth straight win in conference openers and stay unbeaten at the Yuengling Center this season at 9-0.
But not without great cost.
In the third quarter, freshman Maria Alvarez was hustling back on defense to stop a Cincy fast break, turned her ankle, and fell to the ground holding her leg. After several moments she was helped to the locker room and did not return. Coach Jose Fernandez didn’t hold back with how important Maria has been to the lineup. “Now we gotta figure out (life) without Maria; we got Pinzan coming back. Now we gotta get other guys to step up.”
Maria led all players with +15 on the floor before her injury. Bad injury luck has plagued this team the past two seasons, but Fernandez indicated that injured PG Elisa Pinzan could be back sooner rather than later: “we’re hoping that she’s able to play at Tulsa (Sunday, January 12.)”
Offense came from multiple outlets this game with four Bulls scoring double figures. Freshman phenom Elena Tsineke led USF with 19 points adding three rebounds and four assists. She also was a perfect 6-6 on free throws. Freshman Krystyna Brabencova added ten points and a career high seven assists. Both freshmen played at least 36 minutes.
Sydni Harvey came off the bench and put up 18 points of her own, shooting 50% from beyond the arc. Harvey also was a perfect 7-7 on free throws as the Bulls shot 76% from the charity stripe; with 13 of 16 made free throws coming from Harvey and Tsineke. “We practice them every day, we shoot at least 50 every day, so that helps,” said Harvey. “Once your teammates are making them, it makes you hit them, too,” added Tsineke after a very successful matinee performance for the duo.
Forward Bethy Mununga had a monster game again with 16 points and seven total rebounds; five of which were on the offensive side of the ball. Tamara Henshaw and Shae Leverett also contributed seven rebounds apiece. The offensive rebounding led to a 20-7 advantage in second chance points. “That’s about effort and accountability. Rebounding is about effort.” Jose Fernandez didn’t hold back his praise for his team when everyone can contribute in a variety of ways. “We had a lot of guys do different things. If we can continue to rebound, and shoot the ball like we did, and defend, and play for one another. January and February will be fun.”
USF will hit the road for a mini road-trip starting Sunday at Tulsa and heading to Philadelphia to play Temple the following Thursday. They return home in the first War-on-I4 tilt vs. C. on Sunday, January 19.
- USF’s bench outscored Cincinnati 20-2.
- Cincinnati only attempted six three pointers, converting three (all by Guard Sam Rodgers.) To contrast, USF shot 8-23 from beyond the arc.
- Tamara Henshaw secured her 800th career rebound in the first half.