Last weekend the Dons’ regular season wrapped up against the Loyola Marymount Tigers (14-15) and Pepperdine Waves (7-22). Both games were home at War Memorial, the latter against Pepperdine also serving as the team’s senior night.
In their first game of the week against LMU, San Francisco put on a showcase from beyond the arc and a clinic from the charity stripe. The team shot 10-of-23 from distance and 31-of-36 from the free-throw line. In the first-half alone senior Rachel Howard had already logged 16 points and three assists, going 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Going into the break, USF had already built up a comfortable 12-point 42-30 lead, by holding the Tigers to 32.4% shooting from the floor and out-rebounding the Tigers 23-17. The second half was much more competitive out of the break. Midway through the third quarter, LMU was able to trim the deficit in half to six points but by quarters end the Dons inflated the lead back to 11. In the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, USF went on an 11-to-2 run to expand the lead further to 17, never giving up the double-digit lead again until the final score read 89-73. Howard lead the game in scoring with 29 points and added seven rebounds, she shot a perfect 14-of-14 from the free-throw line. Junior Mikaela Rakova poured in 19 points of her own and pulled in five rebounds. Junior Anna Seilund stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, eight rebound, four assists, one block and two steals.
The regular season finale against Pepperdine was a back-and-forth nail-biter until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. In the first quarter USF ran the Waves off the court, holding Pepperdine to 14 points while netting 24. Howard and Seilund came out on fire assisting each other and scoring the first five baskets via three-pointers and jumping out to a 15-2 lead. Howard had already tallied 14 points to go along with four made three’s. The second quarter was a dead even 16-16, going into halftime the Dons were holding onto a 40-30 lead. In the third quarter it was a near mirror of the first. The Waves were having their way in the paint and completely erased the league with 3:42 remaining 46-46, after a pair of made free-throws Pepperdine even took a one-point 51-50 lead with 1:28 left in the quarter but by the end of the third USF regained a 54-52 lead. During the fourth quarter the Waves would tie the game twice more but San Francisco eventually leaped out to a 12-point 74-62 lead that would eventually dwindle to single-digits but was never given up. In the final seconds USF was able to secure the win thanks to collective clutch free-throw shooting from Howard, Seilund, and junior Kalyn Simon shooting a perfect 10-of-10. With a final score of 84-78, Howard dropped a career-best 37 points. Seilund was two assists away from a triple-double, after her 17 points and ten rebound.
San Francisco said goodbye to seniors Rachel Howard, Claudia Price, Hashima Carothers, and Raushan Gultekin for the last time at War Memorial at the Sobrato Center.
With a perfect 4-0 final homestand, the team will be going into the WCC tournament in Las Vegas, NV with the No.4 seed. With expectations high to repeat as champs, the first team they’ll have to get by will be the Loyola Marymount University Tigers on Thursday, March 2 at 8:00 pm. If USF advances to the semifinals, their game is set for Monday, March 6 at 12:00 pm vs. TBD. Be sure to follow live on theW.tv.