Tampa, FL - The No. 17 University of South Florida Bulls defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 82-49 at the Sun Dome. Senior guard Courtney Williams scored her 2000th career point, leading all scorers with 28 points.
"My teammate (Shalethia Stringfield) whispered in my ear, and was like ‘You hit this shot its 2,000,'" Williams said. "So when coach drew up the play and I hit the shot I was hype."
Williams led USF through the first quarter, putting up the Bulls' first four points, going 4-for-6 overall, and leading all scorers with 8 points. She recorded two blocks in one possession, helping USF hold Cincinnati to a 21 percent shot efficiency.
Freshman forward Kitija Laksa added 6 points for the Bulls and sophomore forward Maria Jespersen dominated the boards, recording 5 rebounds. USF shot at 47 percent from the field and took a 20-9 lead into the second quarter.
"I thought we got off to a good start," USF head coach Jose Fernandez said. "We haven't been getting off to good starts lately and that first quarter was good."
Though Williams uncharacteristically didn't score at all in the second quarter, the Bulls added 11 points to their lead. Senior guard Shalethia Stringfield put up 7 points, and Laksa, who led all scorers with 9 points, hit her second three-pointer of the night. Jespersen recorded her 6th rebound, in pursuit of breaking her career high of 9. USF's shot efficiency decreased to 33 percent, and the Bulls held a 31-22 lead at the half.
"Second quarter I thought we got some really, really, good shots they just didn't fall," Fernandez said. "That quarter defensively and offensively was not good for us."
The Bearcats opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run, before Williams hit a three-pointer to end the Bulls scoring drought. Williams quickly got back into rhythm, adding 10 points and 3 rebounds.
USF shot at 73 percent, bumping the Bulls overall efficiency back up to 45 percent. Cincinnati went 5-for-16 from the field goal range, allowing USF to hold a 57-36 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
"I thought we came out in the third quarter and really asserted ourselves," Fernandez said. "We buckled down, defended, and made shots, so that was a good thing."
In the fourth quarter Williams officially left her mark at USF, scoring her 2,000th career point. She finished leading all scorers with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 assists. Laksa finished with 11 points and 3 rebounds on the night, and Jespersen recorded a career-high 10 rebounds. The Bulls shot 44 percent overall, holding the Bearcats to a 26 percent efficiency, and finishing with an 82-49 victory.
"She's been a big part of what we've done here for the last four years," Fernandez said on Williams. "What she's done on and off the floor for our program has been spectacular, so I was happy. She came out and shot a good number in the first quarter, and finished shooting at 50 percent, but I thought she really went to the glass.
"And I thought our entire team did really well on the glass ... 65 rebounds that's a good number."
USF will travel to Temple for a 2 p.m. tipoff on Saturday.