The USF Lady Dons (11-12, 6-6 WCC) continued their 3-game home stint this week with a Thursday night bout against their cross-bay rival St. Mary’s Gaels (14-8, 7-4 WCC). Alas, the Lady Dons quickly fell behind, as the Gaels opened the game on a 16-3 run with 1:30 left in the first quarter. USF shot just 13.3 percent from the field in the first quarter, capped off as senior guard Anna Seilund hit a three-pointer, just the second Dons field goal of the game, in the closing seconds of the first. Seilund followed it up with 5 straight points to open the second. Despite this, St. Mary’s remained in control for the rest of the quarter.
The Gaels emphatic post play buried the Dons throughout the first half, as SMC forward Stella Beck put in 19 points on an ultra-efficient 8-10 from the floor, highlighting the low block dominance in the first half. The Gaels entered halftime with a 34-19 lead as USF continued to struggle to find their shot.
As the second half got underway, however, the Dons began to show signs of a turnaround. Junior guard Shannon Powell enjoyed a terrific third quarter, and finished with team-high 17 points and seven rebounds as the Dons knocked down 60 percent of their shots in the third quarter. The Dons switched to a zone defense in the second half, which limited the Gaels low block scoring, but opened up the offensive glass and allowed SMC to pull down 15 offensive rebounds. The Dons were outrebounded in the game 46-28, an 18 rebound margin which rarely results in a victory. Heading into the fourth, USF trailed 38-52.
USF continued to hit shots in the final period, but St. Mary’s stayed hot and matched their 21 fourth quarter points. They were defeated by the Gaels with a final score of 59-73.
The Lady Dons received good performances from aforementioned guard Shannon Powell, and 12 points and three assists from Seilund, who is averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game on the season. Senior forward Michaela Rakova had a tough offensive game, but still managed to post eight points and eight rebounds, and Junior guard Veronica Preciado put up nine points, buoyed by a 6-for-8 performance at the free throw line.
The two teams will meet next on Feb. 15 at SMC. There, Dons will try to even up the season series. As it stands, at the end of this week, the Dons are 6-6 in WCC Conference play, tied for fifth in the conference standings. Later today, they face the University of Portland’s 1-11 Pilots, then will return home on Saturday to play BYU on Feb. 10, who are currently third in the WCC.
Featured Photo: Junior guard Shannon Powell attempts to secure a win over Santa Clara. CHRIS M. LEUNG/USF DONS ATHLETICS