South Florida made a statement in the first week of the season as a team that could be in the national title contender discussion with convincing wins over conference powerhouses Ohio State and Albany.
With three players in double figures, South Florida opened the season with a 71-47 win at defending Big Ten Conference champion Ohio State on Nov. 6. Two-time All-American wing player Kitija Laksa opened her senior campaign with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists as the Bulls beat the Buckeyes for the second straight time. Freshman Beatriz Jordao from Pombal, Portugal started at center and posted a double-double in her impressive debut with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jordao began her South Florida career converting eight of her nine field goal attempts in the contest, while adding two blocks in 22 minutes. Freshman point guard Sydni Harvey added 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the free throw line and finished with three assists.
South Florida followed up the impressive opening night win with a 74-37 home rout of six-time America East Conference opponent Albany on Nov. 9 at home. The Bulls blasted the Great Danes out of the Yuengling Center, improving their home-opener record to 16-3 under head coach Jose Fernandez in his 19th year. Senior Laura Ferreira had a stellar night with 21 points, nearly tying her career-high 24 points, while Laksa added 13 and Harvey, 10.
"How did I start to play basketball? Why did I choose to come to USF? My hopes and dreams? To be honest, I still don’t know a clear answer to this."— USF W. Basketball (@USFWBB) October 31, 2018
A personal letter from @KitLaksa to Bulls Nation. #NCAAWBB #AllAmeriKit https://t.co/H5Tet76C5T
The Bulls shot a solid 42.9-percent from the floor, making 27-of-63 field goals. Rebounding was another major factor in South Florida’s win, the Bulls out-rebounding the Great Danes 52 to 29. It marked the second consecutive game the Bulls out-rebounded their opponents after South Florida grabbed 48 boards in comparison to Ohio State's 32 earlier in the week. A suffocating defensive effort limited Albany to 37 points, the first time the Great Danes have been held to less than 40 points since 2016.
Improving to 2-0 for a sixth consecutive season, South Florida is back in action at home against Bethune-Cookman on Thursday, Nov. 15, before taking on Big 12 Conference foe Oklahoma at the Yuengling Center on Sunday, Nov. 18.