In the first weekend of preseason competition, The Dons had the look of a team ready to compete in the West Coast Conference this season. USF drowned the Sonoma State Seawolves 83-42 last Sunday at War Memorial Gym, two days after holding off the Columbia Lions in a 70-65 home victory to begin the season.
Both teams rhythmically traded baskets early on, and the Seawolves even held a brief lead at 13-10. At this juncture in the game, USF began making the most if its clear height advantage, and in the next six minutes the Dons went on a 20-2 run to take a 30-15 lead. The Dons, with the momentum in their favor, took a commanding 46-28 lead into halftime.
USF continued to completely dominate the second half, putting up another 37 points and holding the Seawolves to just 14 for a final blowout score of 83-42.
The Dons had a balanced attack that featured five players in double figures. Freshman forward Michaela Rakova was a matchup nightmare for Sonoma State all game long, and the six foot three Slovakia native led all scorers and recorded the only double-double of the game with 13 points and 11 boards in her collegiate debut.
Defensive pressure was key for San Francisco, with three Dons recording three or more steals, and senior guard Taj Winston leading with four. Rebounding favored USF by a wide margin of 56-28, and the Dons finished with a whopping 52-12 advantage in points in the paint.
The Dons’ regular season commenced on Friday against the Columbia Lions, when USF shut down a late surge by the Lions to start the season off in the win column.
San Francisco shot 48.4 percent from the field compared 29.6 percent from Columbia in the opening half. Behind assertive play from junior forward Taylor Proctor, The Dons outperformed the Lions and took a double-digit lead into the locker room.
The Dons then opened the second half on a 14-4 run, forcing turnover after turnover as their lead swelled to 21. The Lions stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer that sparked a 17-5 run of their own that got them back into the game.
The Dons’ lead was cut to 65-60 with 2:31 left, but a clutch jumper from junior point guard Zhané Dikes and numerous missed three point attempts by the Lions left Columbia unable to complete the comeback, and the Dons withstood a rough second half to escape with a 70-65 victory.
Proctor led the way with a 15-point 14-rebound double-double. Dikes had 14 points, Winston put up 12, and redshirt senior forward Paige Spietz chipped in 11.
The score of the Dons’ home contest against Cal State Monterey Bay on Tuesday, Nov. 18 was not available at press time. USF now heads to UC Riverside to play its first road game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 2:00 p.m.