On Wednesday the Cincinnati Bearcats’ women’s basketball team returns to action against the 23rd ranked USF Bulls, one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference. The game will be televised on the American Digital Network starting at 7 p.m.
Coming off two consecutive defeats, the 14-7 Bearcats need badly to right the ship at Tampa’s Sun Dome, but nothing will come easily against this deep, long and talented USF club.
USF holds a 17-3 record with a 6-1 mark in AAC play. The Bulls are led by a trio of the AAC’s top scorers: sophomore forward Kitija Laska, junior forward Maria Jespersen and senior guard Ariadna Pujol. USF coach Jose Fernandez has excelled at recruiting internationally, as his three biggest stars all hail from Europe.
The 6’0” Latvian Laska is averaging nearly 20 points per game while shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. The 6’0 Dane Jespersen is a significant low-post presence, averaging 14.2 points per game and more than nine rebounds per night. The 6’1 Spaniard Pujol averages 13.9 per game while collecting an average of 6.5 rebounds. Fellow Spaniard and junior point guard Laia Flores averages nine points and 6.4 assists per game.
The Bearcats will have trouble generating good outside looks against the long and athletic Bulls lineup, a significant problem in each of UC’s most recent defeats. Pounding the ball inside to Shanice Johnson and relying on the hustle and depth of UC’s backcourt to hound USF shot-takers seems like the Bearcats’ best bet on Wednesday evening.
This game will once again help UC see where it measures up against the elite of the AAC.