USF Picked First in AAC Preseason Poll; Bulls Place Five on All-Conference Team

The Bulls earned the top spot in a preseason conference poll for the second time in program history

IRVING, Texas (Oct. 13, 2021) – The University of South Florida women’s basketball team, entering its 50th Anniversary, has been picked to finish atop the American Athletic Conference (AAC) this season in the league’s coaches poll announced by the conference on Wednesday. It marks the second time in program history – and the second-straight year – that the Bulls have been selected first in a preseason conference poll.  

In addition, five players were named to The American Preseason All-Conference Team. Elena Tsineke (Thessaloniki, Greece), Bethy Mununga (Zellik, Belgium), and Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (Nkongsamba, Cameroon) were named First Team All-Conference, while Sydni Harvey (Nashville, Tenn.) and Elisa Pinzan (Murano, Italy) were tabbed Second Team selections.

Click here to see the complete conference release.

The Bulls earned the top spot with 100 total points and 10 of the 11 first-place votes. Central Florida (91) was picked to finish second and Houston (77) third, while Tulane (72) and Temple (69) round out the top five teams in the preseason poll. Cincinnati (44), East Carolina (38), and Wichita State (36) were slotted sixth through eighth, respectively, with Tulsa (32), SMU (26), and Memphis (20) rounding out the bottom three teams.

South Florida (10) and Central Florida (1) were the only two schools to earn first-place votes.

Last season, the Bulls claimed the conference regular season and tournament championship while posting a 19-4 overall record, and a 12-2 mark in The American. South Florida capped an unprecedented season with its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and a sixth trip to the Big Dance in the last nine years. The Green and Gold finished the year ranked No. 19 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll. The Bulls rose as high as No. 12 in the AP poll on Feb. 15, USF’s highest ranking ever. 

South Florida defeated Washington State, 57-53, in the NCAA Tournament first round for its first tournament win since March 19, 2016, when it defeated Colorado State, 48-45.

Tsineke, the Bulls’ top returning scorer, turned in another marquee season for USF, establishing herself as one of the premier players in The American and one of the top young shooting guards in the nation. The sophomore was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Conference First Team after averaging a team-high 13.6 points per game – good enough for eighth in The American – 2.2 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per outing. She was also selected to the AAC All-Tournament Team, averaging 13.3 points per contest in the three games.

One of the top power forwards in the nation, Mununga was an American Athletic Conference First Team All-Conference selection and was named to The American All-Tournament Team, averaging 16.3 rebounds per game in the three AAC tourney games. She also grabbed a tournament record 49 rebounds. Mununga was just shy of averaging a double-double for the season, netting 9.7 points per game, good enough for fourth on the team, and 12.9 rebounds per outing. Her rebound-per-game average was tops in The American and third in the nation, while her total rebounds (297) were first in the AAC and 10th in the nation.

Fankam Mendjiadeu played the last two seasons at American Athletic Conference foe Memphis and was a Second Team all-conference selection. She finished the 2020-21 campaign seventh in The American in scoring (14.1 ppg) and second in rebounding (10.6 rpg), making her the only player in the conference to average a double-double. In addition, she was second in the league in blocked shots, averaging 1.6 rejections per outing, and was third in the conference in field goal percentage, shooting 47.6 percent (107-for-225).

Harvey was named the AAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player and selected to the All-Tournament Team and was also named to The American All-Conference Third Team. She had another banner season for the Bulls, averaging 11.7 points per contest on the year and 11.6 points per outing in conference games. Harvey finished her junior campaign with 903 career points and is on the cusp of becoming the 25th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Harvey led the Bulls in three-point field goals made with 43, which was also tied for the fourth-most in the conference, and her 1.9 treys made per game was seventh in the AAC.

Looked at as one of the top point guards in the nation during the 2020-21 campaign, Pinzan was named the American Athletic Conference Most Improved Player and was chosen to The American All-Conference Second Team. She was third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.3 points per game, and grabbed 3.3 rebounds per contest, tied for third on the team. A classic “Floor General,” Pinzan made her name as an elite distributor and protector of the ball. She led The American, and was seventh in the nation, in assists per game (6.5) and assist/turnover ratio (3.04), and was tops in the AAC, and 10th in the nation, in total assists (149).

The Bulls open the 2021-22 campaign with back-to-back home games against Texas Rio Grande Valley and Alabama State on Tues., Nov. 9 and Thur., Nov. 11, respectively, before traveling to Knoxville, Tenn., to face long time power Tennessee in the AAC/SEC Challenge on Mon., Nov. 15.

Season tickets are on sale now. Fans are encouraged to visit USFBullsTix.com or call 1-800-GoBulls to purchase their season tickets.

Click here for South Florida’s complete season schedule.

Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Team (First-Place Votes)              Points

1.            South Florida (10)                            100

2.            UCF (1)                                                 91

3.            Houston                                               77

4.            Tulane                                                  72

5.            Temple                                                 69

6.            Cincinnati                                            44

7.            East Carolina                                      38

8.            Wichita State                                     36

9.            Tulsa                                                      32

10.          SMU                                                      26

11.          Memphis                                             20

Preseason Players of the Year

Mia Davis, F, Temple

Preseason All-Conference First Team

Tay Sanders, G, UCF

Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, F, South Florida

Bethy Mununga, F, South Florida

Elena Tsineke, G, South Florida

Mia Davis, F, Temple*

Asia Strong, F, Wichita State

Preseason All-Conference Second Team

Laila Blair, G, Houston

Sydni Harvey, G, South Florida

Elisa Pinzan, G, South Florida

Krystal Freeman, F, Tulane

Maya Mayberry, G, Tulsa

*denotes unanimous selection

About USF Women’s Basketball

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USF has recorded its best season in program history during the 2020-21 campaign, all while navigating the unpredictable COVID-19 landscape. In doing so, the Bulls won their first-ever conference regular-season and tournament titles, and posted their highest ranking in the Associated Press Top25 poll, reaching as high as No. 12.

USF has made 16 postseason tournament appearances and had seven NCAA Tournament berths in head coach Jose Fernandez’s 21 seasons. The all-time winningest coach in program history, Fernandez has guided USF to nine 20-win seasons, two WNIT final four appearances, the 2009 WNIT championship, and won more than 380 games. For his efforts on the sideline during the 2020-21 season, Fernandez was named a finalist for the WBCA and semifinalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Awards. He was also tabbed the 2021 American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

Also, during the 2020-21 campaign, the Bulls had five players recognized by The American for impressive seasons, including Elisa Pinzan (Most Improved Player, All-Conference Second Team), Maria Alvarez (Co-Sixth Player of the Year), Bethy Mununga (All-Conference First Team), Elena Tsineke (All-Conference First Team), and Sydni Harvey (All-Conference Third Team).

In addition, Harvey was named the American Athletic Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player and to the All-Tournament Team, while Mununga and Tsineke were also All-Tournament selections.

 #GoBulls 

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