TAMPA – Potential stars of USF women’s basketball’s future shined in the present to help the Bulls roll to 9-1 to start the season.
Freshmen Alisia Jenkins, Shavontae Naylor and Courtney Williams combined for 32 points off the bench as USF cruised past Nevada, 71-46, Friday afternoon at the Caribbean Classic in Cancun.
“It’s great to be able to go to your bench and have that capability of guys stepping in and giving you (production),” said head coach Jose Fernandez, who is now two wins away from reaching 200 in his 13-year career with the Bulls.
Jenkins set new career highs in points (18), rebounds (8) and minutes (20), while Naylor surpassed her single-game personal best with 10 points in 15 minutes of work. Williams added four points and two assists to help USF bounce back from a loss to No. 24 Nebraska on Dec. 16.
“Jenkins goes 8-for-9 for 18, Naylor has 10 and Courtney Williams played a lot of minutes and gave us something,” Fernandez said.
Senior Andrea Smith scored a game-high 19 points and her twin sister, Andrell, put up 10 more in a game that saw the Bulls dominate in key areas. USF outrebounded Nevada, 52-34, and forced 31 turnovers while holding an opponent to fewer than 50 points for the fifth time this season.
Three baskets by Andrea Smith and another from Andrell Smith put USF on an 8-0 run to start the game. Terilyn Moe’s jumper with 3:26 left in the half cut Nevada’s deficit to 25-23, but that’s as close as the Wolf Pack would get the rest of the way. Andrell Smith’s jumper nearly 30 seconds later gave USF some breathing room and the Bulls went into halftime with a 36-28 advantage despite turning the ball over 15 times in the opening period.
A layup by Arielle Wideman cut Nevada’s deficit to 39-34 with 17:11 to play, but the Bulls went on a 9-0 run in the next four-plus minutes to maintain control, with six points coming from Jenkins. USF cut its turnover total down to nine after the break and kept a comeback attempt out of reach by grabbing 26 boards in the final period. Andrell Smith finished with a team-high nine rebounds, while Andrea Smith and Naylor had five apiece.
“I thought we started to close traffic better. We finished in transition and it helps when you shoot 42 percent in the second half as well,” Fernandez said.
USF finishes up at the Caribbean Classic 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Creighton, which headed into the four-team event with a 6-2 record. The Bulls return home to the Sun Dome Saturday, Dec. 29 to face Florida A&M at 2 p.m. USF finishes up its non-conference schedule with a home game against Detroit Mercy on Monday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m.