Comeback Comes Up Short Versus San Diego

The San Francisco women’s basketball team nearly completed a 19-point comeback, but ultimately fell 63-61 to San Diego Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Gym. The Dons dropped to 9-13 on the season (2-7 in the WCC), while the Toreros improved to 15-7 overall (7-3 in the WCC).

Four Toreros scored in double-digits and three had as many as nine rebounds. San Diego out-rebounded the Dons 44-34 overall and 18-7 on offense.

Sophomore forward Alicia Scafidi notched her second career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.

“It’s my job to rebound,” Scafidi said with a smile after the game.

“I just try to be consistent and do that every night.”

The Dons trailed 12-3, 23-4, and 30-11 at various points in the first half. Led by Scafidi, however, San Francisco rallied back to cut San Diego’s lead to 35-27 at halftime. Scafidi collected 11 of her 12 points in the half.

“It all starts with defense,” Scafidi said after the game.

“You get your energy from the defensive end and that transitions to offense.”

Speaking of converting defense to offense, San Diego forced 14 turnovers and collected six blocks and five steals by halftime, and 14 of San Diego’s 35 points (40%) at the half came off of San Francisco turnovers.

The Toreros opened the second half with a 16-5 run over more than six minutes of play. The Dons finally answered when senior guard Mel Khlok hit a three-pointer that reduced San Diego’s lead to 12 (54-42) with 10:14 remaining. Freshman guard Zhané Dikes hit another big three-pointer that made the score 55-47 San Diego with 8:33 to play. Khlok then connected from behind the arc again, bringing the Dons within five points of the lead (55-50) with 7:25 remaining.

San Francisco played the remainder of the second half with ferocious intensity. Sophomore guard Taj Winston embodied that spirit when she slammed into San Diego’s bench to keep the ball inbounds during a Dons rally.

Khlok continued to play well down the stretch. With 4:42 remaining, she stole the ball, drove to the basket, made a layup, and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but her field goal cut San Diego’s lead to 58-54.

Dikes hit a teardrop layup that made it 60-58 with 2:21 to play, but San Diego senior forward Klara Wischer answered with a layup that widened the Toreros lead to 63-58 with 1:05 remaining.

With 52 seconds left on the clock, Khlok again drove to the basket, scored, and was fouled. This time she hit the free throw, bringing the Dons within two points of the lead with less than one minute to play. Khlok, USF’s leading scorer, collected 15 of her 16 points in the second half.

San Francisco held strong on the defensive end, forcing San Diego to miss a contested shot as the shot clock expired. The Dons then called a timeout, trailing 63-61, with possession of the ball and 13.7 seconds remaining.

San Francisco’s comeback effort came up short, however, as Winston missed a contested jumper moments before the game clock expired.

Down 19 points in each half, the Dons lost by only two.

“It was a rough way to end, but I think we came out and we fought back,” Scafidi said after the game.

San Francisco outscored the Toreros 34-28 in the second half and turned the ball over only three times in that span.

However, the Dons made just 38.5% (5-13) of their second half free throws, 50% (10-20) overall.

“We have been [struggling] the whole season,” Scafidi said of her team’s free throw woes.

“I think it’s just a mentality. People get nervous. You go to the line and everyone’s looking at you. It’s kind of like a pressure situation, but we really we need to look at it and just say, hey, I shoot these everyday. It’s a free shot. I’m going to hit this, and it’ll go in,” she said.

Free throws aside, the Dons showed heart coming back against a quality opponent.

“We got ourselves in a big hole and we didn’t stop playing hard,” Scafidi said.

“We didn’t stop moving the ball or staying together. I think it’s a big step for us because it’s easy to give up. To challenge yourself to come back, that’s hard.”

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