The Bulls host George Washington tonight in the third round of the WNIT in the Sun Dome. Four more wins and USF will become the first school to ever win the WNIT twice (the Bulls first won it all at the end of the 2008-09 season) in the 16 year history of the tournament.
The Bulls advanced past North Carolina A&T last Friday in the first round by closer margin than many expected, 56-50. The Bulls were sloppy with the ball and turned it over 17 times directly leading to 20 points for NC A&T. USF also got out rebounded and allowed 21 second chance points (USF only got 6). Alisia Jenkins recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Courtney Williams just barely missed out on a double-double herself with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Inga Orekhova also had a solid game with 15 points.
After winning in the first round, the Bulls hosted Stetson in the second round on Sunday. The final result was never in doubt as the Bulls absolutely dominated and won 75-56. The seniors had that mean look in their eye and played like they had some kind of personal grudge against Stetson. Inga Orekhova had a monster first half with 16 points and 6 rebounds (finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds) and Akila McDonald nearly finished shooting a perfect 100%, but missed a jumper late to finish 10-11 with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Only two other Bulls had more than two points- Ariadna Pujol with 12 and Courtney Williams with 10. The Bulls also set the record for post season shooting percentage as a team with 51.7% (previous high was 50%) and shared the ball really well (recording 25 assists).
Now onto tonight's opponent: George Washington. The Colonials have been able to put up big points so far in the tournament, averaging 81 points a game, and are coming off a big win over the quasi #2 seed (based on RPI rankings) Villanova, by a score of 76-66. They are led by 6-foot-4 forward Jonquel Jones, who averages 14.7 points and 11 rebounds per game, both team highs. The Colonials finished third in the Atlantic-10 with an overall record of 23-10. GW is ranked #72 in the rpi (Bulls are #52).
Head Coach Jose Fernandez and the Athletics marketing team have been trying to drum up support and pack the Sun Dome for the game. Yesterday Fernandez made the rounds in Greek Village with Rocky:
USF is holding their opponents to a .335 shooting percentage, the lowest in school history. The Bulls are also 105 rebounds away (they average 44.5 a game) from having their best rebounding season ever. Sophomore Alisia Jenkins is on pace to set the single season rebounding record (she is currently second with 335) if the Bulls reach the championship game.
Also this week sophomore guard Courtney Williams was named to the WBCA All Region team, meaning she will also be considered for All-American recognition. She has been huge for the Bulls all year, racking up 530 points and 245 rebounds. If she passes 550 points, she will be only the third Bull to do so. Only one Bull has registered 600 in a year.
If the Bulls get past GW, they will either get Mississippi State or Auburn next. Mississippi State went into the tournament as #95 RPI and Auburn came into the tournament #67 RPI.
The game is tonight at 7 PM in the Sun Dome. If you can make it, you need to be there- this team is really good and deserves our support. Let's all stop worrying about everything else that's going on in Athletics for a few hours and get behind this team in a big way. Even though it's not the NCAA's, a championship is still a championship.
Correction: Article previously stated we would either play Southern Miss. or Auburn in the quarter finals. That was wrong- correct matchup was Mississippi State or Auburn.