Dons Women’s Basketball Preview

Women’s basketball, led by Coach Goodenbour, hopes to bounce back from a subpar 2022-23 season with some new faces in the locker room. Pictured from left to right: Ioanna Krimili, Lorena Barbosa, Marina Hernandez, Aya Kéita, Amalie Langer. Photo courtesy of Chris M. Leung/Dons Athletics.

Dons basketball season is coming closer, and the women’s basketball team dropped some dimes this offseason for their upcoming games. They will officially start their season in the late fall, on Nov. 3rd versus Chico State University. 

The women’s basketball team finished the 2022-23 season with a 19-13 record, and also in the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament. However, their WCC run was short-lived, losing to the Brigham Young University Cougars 56-66, in the first round. The Dons also competed in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament for the third consecutive year, but were eliminated in the first round after a loss to the University of Washington.

During the off-season, the women’s basketball team made some moves and introduced signings of new players to the team. Some of the new players are international students, who had experience in playing basketball overseas. 

Junior guard and sociology major Freja Werth, joined the team this summer. Werth comes from a basketball family and played at Riksbasketgymnasiet Lulea High School in Sweden. She spent her first two years playing basketball at the University of Albany Danes. Werth spoke on her move to pursue her basketball dreams.  She said, “My last year in high school I got the chance to play in the professional league and win a Swedish championship. Moving here and playing college basketball has given me an experience I couldn’t have dreamed of.”

Forward Seynabou Thiam joined the team as a graduate student in the business analytics program. She played basketball last season at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and played high school basketball at Galandou Diouf High School in Dakar, Senegal. Thiam spoke on team chemistry for the upcoming season, “I think that the most important thing will be to have team chemistry that will help us win games.”

First-year guard and hospitality major Elle Paphronis also joined the team this off-season.  Paphronis played basketball at North Edmond High School in Edmond, Oklahoma. In high school, she was a two time state champion and three time defensive player of the year. Paphronis said, “Having that experience in basketball means everything to me because so much work was put in to achieve those goals.” 

Guard and hospitality major, Paula Tirado, joined the team as a first-year. Tirado played at the basketball club in her hometown Mataró – Barcelona, Spain. She said, “I grew up and trained there and met many people who helped me through this process and supported me whenever I needed it.” Tirado added, “I think we are a great team and we are all good people and if we work together we will succeed.”  

Grad-student and guard, Jasmine Gayles said, “I have loved playing with this group so far because basketball always feels fun with them, and I always know that they will compete at the highest level every single day.” She said, “I think as we go further into the season, this same competitiveness and joy will translate into games.”  

Gayles won the WCC Sixth Woman of the Year for 2022-23 season and WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention in 2021-22. She studies marketing intelligence for her master’s degree. 

Gayles, who is one of the team leaders, described her leadership style as welcoming. She said, “I want the way I lead to come from a genuine place of love for my teammates and I want them to know that I will always have their best interest at the forefront of everything I do for our team.” 

Head Coach Molly Goodenbeur added to the importance of character in the recruitment process, “Character and work ethic are two of the most important qualities we look for. The people we recruit to USF Women’s Basketball are intelligent, conscientious, focused, competitive young women from all over the world who are passionate about being the best basketball players and students they can be.”


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