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November 10, 2013

USF Women down Central Connecticut State

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The USF Bulls women's basketball team captured its first victory of the season Sunday afternoon at the Sun Dome, grabbing a commanding 81-47 win over the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils and moving to a 1-1 record.

The Bulls had little trouble rebounding from a tough 78-70 loss against Maryland on Friday night. Putting up 81 points and getting over 20 assists, USF showed off the depth and versatility of its roster against Blue Devils team that was unable to keep up for most of the game.

However, the Bulls certainly had their own issues despite a 34 point victory. Coach Jose Fernandez noted that his team had difficulty at the start of the game, as the Bulls suffered five turnovers and six missed shots within the first eight minutes of the game.

"The most disappointing thing was those first eight minutes; the rest of the game we played well," Fernandez said. "Our minds were still on Maryland. We had to put that game behind us and move forward."

And move forward is just what USF did. After a sluggish start, the Bulls found their rhythm near the 10-minute mark of the first half on a 7-0 run with baskets from Ariadna Pujol and Shaleth Stringfield. This turning point led to USF pulling away as halftime approached with a 36-25 lead, a lead the Bulls would maintain throughout the rest of the game.

With a considerable lead in hand, the second half allowed USF to play a bit more of a relaxed game than what was seen during the first 20 minutes. This lead to more offensive production, and four different Bulls would have 10 points or more by the end of the match.

Courtney Williams, who had 21 points and three assists off the bench against Maryland, put up 10 points and was tied for most assists with five. Alisia Jenkins now has back-to-back double-doubles, as she scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds against Central Connecticut. Freshman Ariadna Pujol led the team in scoring with 20 points.

One of the biggest surprises for this team throughout these first two games has been the lack of production from Inga Orekhova. After going 0-of-11 on field goal attempts and scoring only two points off of free throws against Maryland, the senior went 1-of-5 on field goal attempts and 0-of-2 on three point attempts against Central Connecticut. Orekhova scored just two points through 17 minutes of play.

Fernandez's frustration with Orekhova's play was evident after the game. After a great 2012-2013 season in which she averaged 12.7 points per game and played an integral part in the program's tournament run, Orekhova has struggled to find her shots at the start of her senior season. Fernandez said the old adage "practice makes perfect" is fitting for the guard right now, and he expects to see her production increase as the season progresses.

With their first win under their belt, the Bulls will now turn their attention to the Jacksonville Dolphins. The two squads will meet at the Sun Dome on Wednesday night, and it will be USF's third game in five days.



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