The USF women’s basketball team came up with a victory in West Coast Conference (WCC) play against bitter rivals, the Loyola Marymount University Lions, on the Hilltop on Feb. 8 by a score of 70-68. The driving force behind the Dons’ convincing victory was none other than Leila Vigil, who has been strong for the Dons all season long. Saturday night was a career night for her, posting a stat line of 27 points (lead both teams), 13 rebounds (also lead both teams), and three assists. These numbers, in conjunction with her play against the University of the Pacific on Feb. 6, earned her WCC Player of the Week honors for Feb. 3-9.
USF was dominant on both sides of the ball, with great defense leading to easy transition baskets, putting the Dons up 19-9 after the first quarter. The Dons defense stymied the Lions’ offensive attack, holding them to a miserable 26.7% from the field in that first quarter. The Lions fought to cut the Dons’ lead down to two in the second quarter, but a 10-0 Dons run gave the home team a 12-point halftime advantage at 37-25. The Dons received big contributions from Mikayla Williams, who had nine points and nine rebounds in the contest (only one point and rebound shy of joining Vigil in the game with a double-double), and Lucie Hoskova who made seven field goals of her own for a strong 16-point performance.
The Dons shot and moved the ball well throughout the first three quarters, but the fourth saw their production stutter, particularly on the offensive end. After shooting over 45% in the first three quarters, including 55% in the third quarter alone, the Dons went cold in the fourth, shooting just 25% from the field and finishing the quarter without a 3-pointer. The Lions capitalized on the opportunity to close the gap, shooting 53% in that fourth quarter (which included two 3-point field goals made), and took the once 12-point Dons lead all the way down to a tie at 68 apiece.
At this point in the game, it was obvious who needed the ball in their hands — and yes, that somebody was Vigil. In the final 20 seconds of regulation, Vigil had the ball atop the key. She has been strong all season long at finishing inside amongst bigger and taller defenders and that was no different here. She drove hard to her right, splitting two defenders and laying in the go-ahead layup with just over eight seconds remaining. That would stand as the game-winner after it was all said and done, the final score at 70-68.
“We have a lot of things to learn about end-of-game situations, but it’s nice to be able to learn things from a win, instead of [having] to learn them by losing…,” said Dons Head Coach Molly Goodenbour.
USF gears up for a huge WCC litmus test in Spokane as they travel to face the Gonzaga University Bulldogs on Feb. 13.