Despite a few scoring streaks, the USF Lady Dons basketball team lost to the Saint Mary’s Lady Gaels last Thursday night with a final score of 59 to 47. This sets the Lady Dons WCC record to 2-6 and their overall record to 6-16.
Stellar performances by senior guard Shay Rollins and freshman forward Katy Keating could not dampen the force that six foot- four-inch freshman Louella Tomlinson brought to the court. Tomlinson played the power forward spot and she was the big star for the Lady Gaels, scoring 22 of the team’s 59 total points.
An unexpected suspension of two USF players, senior center Necolia Simmons and junior guard Danesha Wright weakened the Dons’ starting line up. Simmons and Wright have been suspended for the remainder of the season due to a violation of team rules.
Saint Mary’s Tomlinson won the tip off and the Gaels set the tone of the first half by scoring quickly and leading the Dons by as much as 14 points. With the Gaels in a man-to-man defense, the Dons had trouble making good passes and penetrating the defense. The Dons also had trouble defending their basket from Tomlinson who scored most of her points in the paint, unrivaled by USF’s defenders.
Sophomore Donnisha Taylor put the Dons on the scoreboard with a short jumper. Teammate Keating quickly followed up with a clean three pointer. Taylor continued to push the Dons ahead by stealing the ball from Tomlinson and the Gael guards. Sophomore Jakkie Boka-Timmerberg boosted the Lady Dons’ defense by rebounding and guarding Tomlinson.
Toward the end of the first half, Rollins and Keating found a passing dynamic that broke through the Gael’s challenging defense and earned the Dons several more points. Keating hit a long three pointer and a long jumper and Rollins hit a few short jumpers to cut Saint Mary’s lead to three points. The halftime score was 31 to 28, with Saint Mary’s leading by only a small margin.
Hopes were dashed in the second half as Tomlinson, senior Maija Lahde and sophomore Erika Ruiz scored faster than Rollins and Keating could. The Gaels’ lead increased as the Dons struggled to compete with this fast-scoring pace.
Rollins scored several more points, sinking a three pointer from the side and Keating scored a couple more shots, but this was not enough to keep up. Lahde and Ruiz made appearances on the scoreboard as Tomlinson assisted. The Lady Dons threw up several three point attempts to put a dent in the large lead, but the shots weren’t falling.
In a biting gesture, Ladhe stole the ball from the Dons and dribbled down court and scored a backward lay up. The Lady Dons lost to the Gael’s 59-47, which left their WCC record at 2-6.
After the game, head coach Tonya Haave said, “The big girl hurt us. We got hot for awhile but couldn’t sustain it.” Of the suspensions of two key players, Haave said, “The bench is a lot thinner.”