It wasn’t without its share of excitement, and heart-stopping moments, but the South Florida Bulls women’s basketball team won their first-ever regular season conference title on Tuesday night after defeating the Central Florida Golden Knights 65-62 inside the Yuengling Center.
The ghosts of every bad thing that has ever happened to USF Athletics reared its ugly head with 27 seconds left, and the Bulls up 11. A series of unfortunate events helped Reedy Creek University cut the lead to one with 1.6 seconds left, before Elisa Pinzan iced the game with two critical free throws.
It’s been a long time coming for head coach Jose Fernandez. He took over a program where one of the starters was suing the school (and won), and the coach was fired for racial discrimination. And then just when he starts to build momentum, his team is thrown into the Big East to compete against Rutgers, Notre Dame, and Connecticut.
Fernandez had just two losing seasons between 2005 and 2021. Two. Total.
Yet, the conference title always eluded him. Until Tuesday night.
Bethy Mununga recorded yet another double-double with 11 points, and 13 rebounds. Shae Leverett added 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Pinzan led the Bulls with 18 points, and eight assists, and Elena Tsineke added another 12 points to help USF beat Bay Lake.
It had been 26 years since USF won a conference title in the big four sports (Football, Baseball, Men’s Basketball, and Women’s Basketball). It feels good, and we couldn’t be prouder.
USF will travel to Oviedo on Thursday to face the Golden Knights in the season finale. It’ll matter for NCAA Tournament seeding, but the first important step was taken care of Tuesday.
But, why not sweep #TrashZone to put a stamp on this impressive season?